Minister Fritz to approach Minister Cele and National Police Commissioner
Minister Fritz to approach Minister Cele and National Police Commissioner regarding poor report on POP deployment at SASSA office
The Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, has received the Acting Provincial Commissioner’s report on the outrageous events which took place against residents by Public Order Policing (POP) during Minister Zulu’s visit to the Bellville SASSA office on 15 January 2021.
The report provided is merely a redacted, partial account of what took place, omitting to provide the detail on various answers to questions asked. This is a serious affront to the oversight powers accorded to the Provincial Minister by the Western Cape Community Safety Act and Constitution.
Minister Fritz said: “My unconditional condemnation of the unacceptable behaviour of the police towards SASSA beneficiaries still stands, and I am determined to use all my powers of oversight to get to the bottom of the circumstances that resulted in such a decision being made and implemented by SAPS.”
“My oversight powers in terms of section 4 (3) (a) of the Western Cape Community Safety Act states that ‘in order to perform the functions in terms of this Act, the Provincial Minister or any employee or person authorised in terms of subsection (1) or (2)—(a)may request and obtain information and documents under the control of the police service or a municipality in question’.”
Minister Fritz said further: “The report provided fails to answer the substantive elements of my enquiry regarding who requested the deployment of SAPS’ POP unit, which resources were mobilised and why it was necessary to deploy the resources used, including a water cannon.”
The response provided by Acting Provincial Commissioner, General Manci on 28 January 2021 merely indicates that:
“On the morning of 15 January 2021, a call was lodged to the Operational Room of a group of people wanting to force entry at the SASSA offices in Bellville. The incident coincided with the Minister of Social Development’s visit, Hon Zulu.
POP members were then deployed to manage the crowd at the SASSA offices at which water cannon was utilized to disperse the crowd.
It needs to be mentioned that enforcement of social distancing is not the responsibility of the SAPS, but that of every Department and/or entity.
This office has had internal engagements to ensure that all members understand their role in the enforcement of DMA regulations.”
Minister Fritz said: “From the response provided, it is unclear to me who made the request for a POP deployment and why it was deemed necessary to have a water cannon present at a Ministerial visit. It is further unclear to me why SASSA had not implemented the relevant measures to maintain social distancing and to prevent such long queues outside their Bellville office.”
Minister Fritz added: “I am deeply concerned by the way in which SAPS responded to the incident, how the order was given and by whom. These hostile actions undermined the dignity of the many vulnerable people who were standing in the line. It is unacceptable that residents should suffer the double insult of having to wait long periods for basic service delivery and still be treated poorly by SAPS.”
Going forward, Minister Fritz will approach the National Minister of Police, Gen. Bheki Cele and the National Commissioner of Police, Gen. Khehla Sithole to request the SAPS’ official report on the deployment of POPs to the Bellville SASSA office, in order to conduct the necessary oversight.
Attention broadcasters: please find audio clip attached.