- The Portfolio Committee on Police wants to hold the executive to account for the unrest.
- The security cluster has been in disarray in the days following the unrest.
- The committee believes budget cuts are the root of the police’s slow response to quell the unrest.
The Portfolio Committee on Police is adamant about holding the executive accountable for security lapses during the looting, violence and destruction of property in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
This was according to the chairperson, ANC MP Tina Joemat-Pettersson, after the committee visited the two affected provinces on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the days following the unrest – President Cyril Ramaphosa called it a “failed insurrection” – the security cluster has appeared in disarray.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula contradicted Ramaphosa, saying it wasn’t an insurrection, and later backtracked.
Police Minister Bheki Cele denied that the State Security Agency (SSA) provided the police with an intelligence report before the unrest, but State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said she did.
The government also admitted that it had been slow to respond to the outbreak of violence.
“Members of the executive are accountable collectively and individually to Parliament, and it will be a dereliction of duty on our part as Members of Parliament if we do not ensure thorough accountability,” said Joemat-Pettersson in a statement released on Thursday.
“It is on this basis that we will be suggesting to sister committees within the justice, crime prevention and security cluster to hold joint meetings to get to the bottom of security lapses during the violence and looting.”
She said the committee believes that a thorough accountability process is essential in preventing the recurrence of the violence in future. The committee’s proposal will include a discussion on the functionality of the intelligence apparatus, budgetary shortfalls, as well as collaboration within the cluster.
The committee also believes that the R11.8 billion cut to the police budget is the root cause of the “police dithering and slow response to looting and destruction of property”.
According to the committee, the acknowledgement that the police were overwhelmed, due to the lack of human resources and equipment, can only be addressed through consideration of the police’s budget.
The committee highlighted that, as a direct result of budget cuts, for two successive years, the police were unable to undertake their annual intake of 7 000 new trainees, placing additional pressure on the police, given the vast size of the population they serve.
Joemat-Pettersson also called for the prosecution of police officers involved in the looting.
“We urge the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to complete the investigations urgently. Also, internal disciplinary proceedings must be instituted to rid the service of rotten apples. We can only regain the credibility of the police through a strong and clear action against rotten apples,” Joemat-Pettersson said.
The committee commended community policing forums that tried to save businesses, despite threats of physical harm.