Premier Zille Submits Complaint Against SAPS Deputy Director-General
Today I have submitted a complaint to the national Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, against Ms Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane, the Secretary for the Police Service in charge of the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service, for misconduct she committed which infringes the Constitution, as well as statutes and regulations pertaining to the position held by her.
Section 208 of the Constitution requires that a civilian secretariat for the police service must be established by national legislation to function under the direction of the Cabinet member responsible for policing.
The civilian secretariat was established by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act, No. 2 of 2011, and must, in terms of section 4(4) exercise its powers and perform its functions without fear, favour or prejudice in the interest of maintaining effective and efficient policing and a high standard of professional ethics in the police service.
The complaint follows a tip-off I received about an email sent by Ms Irish-Qhobosheane on the 22 November regarding the public participation process for the Western Cape Community Safety Bill.
Ms Irish-Qhobosheane sent the e-mail to Ms Sanette Smit, who is the Western Cape Provincial ANC Executive Committee Chairperson. The email contained two attachments, namely three draft letters and a discussion document entitled “Western Cape Bill Briefing”.All three draft letters are addressed to the Secretary of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, Mr. M Sassman.
Each letter differs slightly in content but serves the same purpose, which is to object to the draft Western Cape Community Safety Bill and to request an opportunity to make a submission during the upcoming public hearings on the Bill. It is pertinent to note that the discussion document reflects the same objections that Minister Nathi Mthethwa has raised about the Bill.
On 23 November 2012, Ms Smit forwarded Ms Irish-Qhobosheane’s e-mail and its attachments to a long list of people with the following message:
Dear comrades, the DA in the western cape is planning legislation whereby they want to control the function of the South African police and have the provincial commisioner answer to a local board. They are trying to degrade the SAP to the level of municipal police. Deadline for objections is monday 26 November 2012 .. Please make your voice heard by faxing your objection to the following mr M Sassman nr 0214871685Please remember policing is not a provincial competency, but national
Some of the recipients include Western Cape Leader of the ANC Marius Fransman; and his personal assistant Zenobia Istain; Annelize van Wykwho is an ANC member of Parliament and acting chairperson of the Portfolio Committeeon Police; Rhoda Bazier an ANC Councillor in the City of Cape Town; Western Cape ANC provincial treasurer Fezile Calana; ANC member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature Patrick McKenzie; Adv Hishaam Mohamed who is the Western Cape regional head of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and an additional member on the provincial executive committee of the ANC; Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba; ANC Western Cape Secretary Songezo Mjongile and Chief Whip of the ANC in the City of Cape Town Xolani Sotashe and Chairman of the Western Cape Community Police Forum Hanif Loonat.
It is clear that the email sent by Ms. Irish-Qhobosheane from her official work e-mail address to Ms Smit was intended for party political use. This is contrary to the constitutional requirement of the separation between party and state and the concomitant impartiality of public officials.
The email also constitutes an abuse of state resources to promote a party political agenda. Furthermore it is intended for the explicit purpose of manipulating a public participation process for party political ends. This contradicts the purpose of public participation, which is intended to be a bona fide process and not manipulated by people with political agendas.
A crucial question that arises in this matter is ‘On whose instructions was Ms Irish-Qhobosheane acting?’ This matter once again highlights the erosion of the integrity of state institutions in South Africa as a result of the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment, where these institutions are meant to be politically independent, ethically professional and work solely for the public interest.
By sending the email, Ms Irish-Qhobosheane thus committed the following misconduct:
She failed to act ethically, impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias as required by section 195 (a) and (d) of the Constitution; Chapter 4, Part VII, Section A of the Public Service Regulations, 2001, and Section 6 of the Senior Management Service Handbook;
She failed to minimise a conflict of interest and to put the public interest first in the performance of her functions as required by Chapter 4, Part VII, Section A of the Public Service Regulations 2001; and
She abused her position in the public service to promote or prejudice the interest of a political party and conducted party political activities in the workplace, which is prohibited by Chapter 2, Section C2.7 and C3.7 of the Public Service Regulations, 2001, and Section 11.1 and 11.2 of the Senior Management Service Handbook.
In the circumstances, Western Cape Community Safety Minister Dan Plato and I have called on national Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to immediately take disciplinary steps against Ms Irish-Qhobosheane and report the matter in accordance with section 16A of the Public Service Act, as he is legally obligated to do. We have also requested that he informs the Western Cape Government of the outcome of such disciplinary steps, which may include the removal of Ms Irish-Qhobosheane from office, as contemplated in section 11 of the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act. We will be following up with the Minister periodically to check on updates and progress in this matter.
This is not the first instance of the national Department of Police trying to resist and undermine the Western Cape Government’s effort to exercise its constitutionally-mandated oversight role over the SAPS. The Minister of Police is currently mounting a legal challenge to the Commission of Inquiry into the Khayelitsha SAPS that I appointed in August this year in response to complaints regarding a breakdown in the relationship between the police and the community and requests received for its establishment.
I trust that Minister Mthethwa will deal with my complaint expeditiouslyand treat it with the urgency it requires. It must be demonstrably clear that political bias, misconduct and manipulation of legal procedure within the Police Department is taken seriously by his Ministry and that his senior officials are subject to vigorous accountability.
In previous correspondence and a face-to-face meeting, Minister Mthethwa has stated to me that he considers good intergovernmental relations between the Western Cape Government and his Ministry and Department as paramount. His response to our complaint and follow-up actions will be an opportunity for him to demonstrate his commitment to co-operative governance and allay concerns about SAPS collusion in efforts to resist effective and constitutionally-mandated oversight of their institution.
(An electronic copy of the complaint is available for viewing by the media. Please email Zak.Mbhele@westerncape.gov.za to request it to be forwarded.)