Minister Plato’s door remains open for anyone with information
Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
Recent allegations and insinuations lodged against myself, my office and the Western Cape Government will not deter me from the oversight role we are constitutionally mandated to play over policing in the province.
It will also not deter me from continuing to have an open door policy to anyone who wants to lodge complaints or speak out about what they see as improper or unlawful conduct by anyone.
I have today handed over a formal submission to Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Jula, regarding public and malicious allegations made against my Department by a senior police officer as it appears to be in contravention of both the SAPS Act and the police’s own code of conduct.
I want to make it abundantly clear:
The Community Safety Department has no vendetta or smear campaign to tarnish the name or reputation of any particular police officer.
When I receive information for the police’s investigation, I relay that to the relevant investigative authorities directly and timeously.
I am constitutionally mandated to ask the hard questions, sometimes publicly, about policing in the Western Cape.
My oversight role is quite clear in the constitution. Section 206 states that
3. Each province is entitled
a) to monitor police conduct;
b) to oversee the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service, including
receiving reports on the police service;
c) to promote good relations between the police and the community;
6. On receipt of a complaint lodged by a provincial executive, an independent police complaints body established by national legislation must investigate any alleged misconduct of, or offence committed by, a member to the police service in the province.
My role is not to target any specific police officer. I support the hard work that our men and women in blue do on a daily basis.
Over the years the Department of Community Safety in the Western Cape has worked tirelessly to strengthen the relationship between the police and communities. We realise that safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Trust is central to the relationship between community members and the police.
Participation of criminal activity by police officers, corruption or allowing criminals, gangsters and druglords to continue their conduct without repercussions causes a breakdown in the trust between the police and community members.
When community members entrust me with information, I am constitutionally obliged to hand it over to authorities. This cannot be labelled as my own information.
In the past I have relayed information that has been supplied to myself or my office directly to the South African Police Serivice, to the HAWKS, to the Public Protector, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate or any other relevant authority.
The same due process was followed with the most recent information I was confronted with.
I originally directed the complainant to the Western Cape Police Ombudsman. In turn, the Ombudsman informed me that the allegations put forward by the complainant are serious and falls outside the policing service delivery complaints mandate of the Ombudsman and directed the complainant back to my office.
As the complainant was directed back to my office, I then asked the Ombudsman to avail a staff member to assist the complainant in drawing up the necessary documents, for which I was not present. I used the information captured in the affidavit to inform both the HAWKS and Provincial Commissioner Jula.
Any attempt by anyone to undermine the important oversight mandate of the Western Cape Government cannot be tolerated. When the Western Cape Government is attacked in public by a senior police officer it breaks down the trust relationship between my Department and SAPS.
I will not allow myself or my office to be dictated on which complaints we can listen to or respond to, specifically when the complaints also reference police officials.
The safety of the people of the Western Cape remains of the utmost importance.
Anyone with information on any crime committed or of any suspected criminal activity have to report it to their nearest police station or to the appropriate authorities.
If they feel they are not being heard, feel that they do not trust a specific police officer, or fear complaining about the police themselves, my door remains open to assist in rebuilding the trust relationship between communities and the police.
All serious allegations have to be investigated for credibility’s sake, and the appropriate action must be followed. This is to ensure that no person – not a cop, a politician or especially a gangboss or druglord – is allowed to be above the law.
Cell: 079 694 1113