STATEMENT BY CLLR WARWICK CHAPMAN
Umbilo Ward Councillor
MEC Willies Mchunu declines to hold Police accountable
DURBAN, 2 April 2012 – KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu, today spurned a request to secure commitments from the Umbilo Station Commander and the Provincial Commissioner of Police to embrace the CPF and the community, and to commit the Unbilo Police Station to fighting crime; a request that Democratic Alliance Cllr Warwick Chapman views as not only essential to addressing the problem of crime, but also in line with the police mandate in the South African Constitution.
During a 4-hour public meeting on 2 April 2012 to deal with the long running problems at the Umbilo Police Station, the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu spurned a request to secure commitments from the Umbilo Station Commander and the Provincial Commissioner of Police.
The Umbilo SAPS has been in the media over the past years for all the wrong reasons. Umbilo SAPS’s poor handling of rape cases, allegations of Police involvement in crime, particularly the explosion of drug-related crime, lack of action on known crime threats and lack of commitment to work with the CPF angered much of the Umbilo community. These frustrations boiled over into a public protest outside the Police station in February which caught the attention of the MEC who received a memorandum and committed to meeting with the community.
The situation exploded last week when Mthokozisi Ngcobo of Oliver Lea Drive in Umbilo was fatally stabbed by three attackers in Umbilo Park. Umbilo Park is a serious crime hotspot which has repeatedly been brought to the attention of Umbilo SAPS without any significant intervention ever having taken place. Police officers are said to have reverted that since they cannot drive their vehicles into the park, they cannot patrol it, dismissing requests that they do so on foot.
During the latter part of the public meeting I rose to acknowledge the intervention which had taken place by the MEC and Provincial Commissioner and request a commitment from the Station Commander to embrace the CPF and the community and commit his station to fighting crime, and that the Provincial Commissioner commit to handling any allegation of Police involvement in crime.
The MEC immediately rose and told the meeting “We are not here to hold the Police accountable. We are not here to extract commitments from the Police.” He then instructed both the station commander and the Provincial Commissioner that they need not build any such commitments into their responses to the issues raised during the meeting.
The MEC is absolutely incorrect. The problems at Umbilo SAPS are entirely the result of an absence of accountability and a lack of commitment from the Police. The community crime fighting partnership relies as a precursor on SAPS fulfilling its constitutional mandate to “effectively prevent, combat and investigate crime”. Securing a commitment from SAPS and ensuring they are held accountable are entirely appropriate under the circumstances.
The MEC in partnership with the Provincial Commissioner has a legal responsibility to play an oversight role and to ensure effective and accountable management of Police stations in KZN. To spurn a request to secure public commitment from the Police to do their jobs properly can be seen as nothing other than the MEC shielding the failure to deliver by SAPS management.
Cllr Warwick Chapman
083 7797 094