IPID to investigate Bellville SASSA office SAPS POPs deployment
The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, welcomes the response received from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) noting that they will investigate the heinous actions of the SAPS POPs deployment to the SASSA Bellville office on 15 January 2021. The deployment resulted in the use of a water cannon against vulnerable grant recipients. This coincided with the visit of the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu.
Minister Fritz wrote to the regional head on 11 February requesting their investigation into the SAPS POPs deployment to SASSA Bellville office and received a response which included a reference contact. IPID have confirmed that they are investigating the matter.
Minister Fritz said, “I welcome the response received from IPID and will follow up regularly with the office of the regional head on the outcomes and updates related to their investigation.”
In terms of Section 21 of the IPID Act (Act 1 of 2011), “(1) A provincial head is responsible for the following: … (j)to report to the relevant MEC on matters referred to the Provincial Head by that MEC”.
Section 28(1)(h) of the IPID Act furthermore prescribes that the Directorate must investigate any matter referred to them by a MEC.
Minister Fritz requested that IPID investigate and provide clarity on:
- Who requested the deployment of SAPS’ POPs unit;
- Which resources were mobilised; and
- Why it was necessary to deploy the resources used, including a water cannon, at a Ministerial oversight visit.
Minister Fritz said, “It is essential that those responsible for these cruel actions against the most vulnerable in our society be identified and not be protected through redacted reports, such as the version I received from the Acting Provincial Commissioner, General Manci, on 28 January 2021. The response failed to answer the substantive elements of my enquiry.”
Minister Fritz added, “I have previously expressed my unconditional concern about the unacceptable behaviour of the police towards SASSA beneficiaries, 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. 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.”
“My oversight powers are further seen 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’”, said Minister Fritz.
Minister Fritz said “In line with this oversight function, I have written to the Minister Cele requesting SAPS’ official report on what transpired, having received no response to date. This is extremely worrying, as he should treat this as a priority – with the same passion he seemingly pursued beach patrols over the last while. Going forward, I will also be writing to the National Commissioner, to request a meeting and discuss, among others, the events which transpired at the SASSA Bellville office.”
Minister Fritz concluded, “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.”