The DA is planning to approach the National Police Minister’s office before laying a complaint with Public Protector’s office in a bid to make the KZN Acting Police Commissioner, Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi accountable for the police commanders’ reaction to their visits. The party’s oversights visits to Durban police stations were denied on Monday, 19 November.

The party leadership believes that Mkhwanazi was the cause of the denied access to these police stations. Led by National Parliament MP Dianne Kohler Barnard the DA leaders took to a trip, circulating around Durban police stations; Umbilo, UMngeni and Brighton Beach SAPS. The party claims that before the oversight visits, they held a meeting with public members at Donlene Cres, in Glemore, where they discussed crime related issues, before visiting Umbilo police station. However, luck was not on their side.

According to Barnard, the station commander, Colonel John Romer was
not in and therefore there was no one to grant the party the right of entry to the station. However, the journey continued to other police stations and again entry was not permitted. The reason was that no authorization was given to them by provincial police authorities.

Barnard said her next move is to write to the Police Minister, Bheki Cele and there-after approach the office of the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkwebane. Her intention is to take the provincial police commissioner to task, saying their failed entry was due to a directive from him. She claimed that the acting commissioner sent an SMS to the respective station commanders, ordering them not to allow the oversight visits. ”Our next move is to write a letter to the police minister and then approach the office of the Public Protector. We want to make the acting police commissioner accountable for his actions,” said Barnard.

“Our visits were motivated by needs of a collective action to fight the widespread crime.”

Barnard said through engagements with members of the public, it was agreed that crime rates are very high. This was not the first time the party was denied access, a few weeks ago they were stopped from conducting another oversight visit at the Durban Central-based Provincial Police Offices.

Provincial police spokesperson, Brigadier Jay Naicker, said: “The DAs denied oversight visits were based on SAPS policies. SAPS is among government institutions that provide services to the public, therefore any one has a right of entry, however, proper procedure needs to be followed. Under no circumstances political parties are allowed to play oversight role to police stations, only the relevant institutions are permitted to conduct oversight visits to police stations. This includes; forensic institutions, the office of the Public Protector, statistic companies and others, but right channels need to be followed before oversight is permitted.”

Councillor Christopher Pappas issued a media statement reporting back on the meeting saying discussions were held between Kohler and party members in the municipal executive, and a plan to fix the KZN SAPS and eThekwini Metro Police was established. “The plan to fix SAPS in KZN and protect our communities would be to secure our borders and stop the free flow of drugs and criminals. We need Home Affairs, the SANDF and SAPS to stop illegal immigration, corruption and crime, so that we can assist legitimate asylum seekers and refugees and keep track of who is entering and exiting our country. The SAPS needs to be professionalized and overhauled,” Cllr Pappas said.

He said the members came up with suggestions to ensure the cut of unnecessary costs and service delivery when fighting crime.