Cape Town – The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) has accused SAPS bosses of dragging their feet when it comes to protecting their members and the communities the police serve by failing to file responding affidavits to an ongoing court battle.
Early last year, the SJC and advocacy body Equal Education filed an application in the Equality Court to address an alleged ongoing “inequitable and discriminatory allocation” of police human resources across 1140 police precincts in the country.
The two organisations were then joined by the Nyanga Community Policing Forum in August, but the process had since stagnated.
The SJC has accused Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and provincial Commissioner Khombinkosi Jula of stalling their submissions.
On Sunday, in an attempt to put pressure on the police, the SJC held a picket outside the Western Cape provincial police offices in Green Point.
SJC spokesperson Chumani Sali said the SAPS was in contempt of court.
“SAPS is stalling the process. They were given an extension to submit their response by December 3, but have still not done so and without reason. SAPS is failing its members as well as the poor communities which are affected by violence and crime.”
But national police spokesperson Sally de Beer said the department had taken cognisance of developments.
“As matters stand, the necessary legal processes and procedures are being attended to. The SAPS will refrain from commenting further pending the finalisation of this matter in court,” she said.
According to the SJC, the police members deployed in townships worked under severe strain and were thinly spread compared to those deployed in affluent suburbs.
* Per 100 000 people, Harare, has three times more murders
(over four years) but 14 times fewer police personnel than Cape Town Central.
* Per 100 000 people, Nyanga has 16 times more murders (over four years) but seven times fewer police personnel than Camps Bay.
* Per 100 000 people, Delft has 14 times more murders (over four years) but four times fewer personnel than Sea Point.
* Per 100 000 people, Mfuleni has 23 times more murders (over four years) but three times fewer police personnel than Rondebosch.
“What we are doing is not something we have thumb-sucked. We are holding SAPS accountable based on their human resources’ policies, which state that police personnel should be according to ratio and crime stats. We are demanding that they implement their own policy,” said Sali.
Sali called for police personnel to be redistributed to the communities in need.
At the end of last year, five police officers were killed in less than a month. Sali said the killings took place in one of the seven least-resourced police precincts in the city.
“Police not only handle impossible workloads, but are far more likely to be exposed to violence and danger.” He warned if the SAPS failed to submit its response the court would be forced to make its decision based on the SJC and other complainants’ submissions without police representation.
“We are not looking for a speedy remedy, but we want SAPS to commit itself.