Narissa Subramoney
Copy rewriter
4 minute read
9 Sep 2021
5:37 pm

Cele dismisses SAPS devolution

Narissa Subramoney

Cele suggested that calls to hand over SAPS to provincial government have racial undertones.

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe

Police Minister Bheki Cele is vehemently opposed to handing over control of the South African Police Services to be managed at provincial level.

He was debating the devolution of SAPS before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday.

The debate comes after the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police Okkie Terblanche suggested that SAPS be managed by provinces because the national police ministry had failed in its mandate to serve and protect citizens.

Terblanche’s comments came after National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole admitted the force would be handicapped in fulfilling its mandate following organisational restructuring.

ALSO READ: DA calls for Saps devolution

Cele dismisses SAPS devolution
Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The SAPS force is currently undergoing restructuring to trim its personnel to meet budget requirements. 

Cele said the idea to hand over power to provinces had racial undertones, and ultimately only served a particular race.

“The topic itself is disguised in a particular skin colour for the benefit of a particular skin colour.”

He said the DA likened Africans living in the Western Cape to foreigners.

ALSO READ: Saps ‘instability’: Warring Cele and Sitole urged to ‘strengthen relationship’

“Devolution of the SAPS must be weakened and paralysed. As a matter of fact, this government is forging ahead in fully implementing the ideals of the ‘Single police service’ as directed by the constitution.”

Cele dismisses SAPS devolution
Angry community members of Zwelihle in Hermanus in the Western Cape set the local police station alight today. Picture: Facebook

Cele claimed some rogue metros had created “parallel structures of law enforcement” which cannot be left unchallenged.

“Chairperson, the Western Cape government continues to sabotage the efforts of adequately resourcing legitimate structures like the Metro Police, who serves as a force multiplier in the fight against crime,” he said.

He said the so-called parallel structures were skewed, and not informed or directed by crime trends.

“Instead the law enforcement is deployed to affluent areas with less crime, to the detriment of townships that are known to be the biggest contributors of crime in the Western Cape.”    

Centralisation of the Policing

Cele dismisses SAPS devolution
Picture; Nigel Sibanda

Cele championed the notion of a Central Command, aimed at combining resources across government and working in tandem, to enable police to chase criminals in all corners of the country.

“Crime syndicates know no borders nor provincial boundaries, therefore our integrated approach in the fight against crime cannot be derailed by such political debates,” he said.

Police have recently taken down Cash-in-Transit gangs made up of individuals from various provinces, even suspects from neighbouring countries. 

An integrated multi-disciplinary operation informed by central command, was established to take down the criminal gang and many other highly sophisticated syndicates. 

ALSO READ: Not so fun being police minister now, is it, Bheki Cele?

“Working in silos is simply not an option if we are indeed serious about effective and efficient policing. Policing simply cannot be commodified nor can it be commercialized,” emphasised Cele.

The design of the SAPS ensures that certain units within the police, operate within a province but reports to a national structure for proper coordination and sharing of resources.

Cele dismisses SAPS devolution
Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: GCIS

Such units include the Family Violence Child Protection Sexual offences (FCS) unit, which is responds directly to Gender-Based Violence related crimes and other crimes committed against women and children.  

Cele is convinced that by conferring unlimited powers to a provincial government, the unit won’t be able to carry out its mandate and will jeopardise coordinated efforts to address GBVF related crimes.

The Minister is also convinced that July’s civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is being used to wage a political war.

About 359 people lost their lives and numerous businesses closed down during the catastrophic scenes of violence and unrest.

ALSO READ: The looting and violence is all about unfinished business in SA

Despite widespread criticism that the security cluster failed to stop the unrest and protect citizens, Cele submitted that “central resourcing, command and control, contributed immensely in bringing stability during the civil unrest and violence period.”

Police members from other provinces were called up to support policing in the affected provinces.

“To date, some of those members are still stationed there and remain on high alert,” said Cele.

NOW READ: Police heavily incapacitated to deal with protests, concedes Cele