Time, money to what end?

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When it eventually saw the light after almost eight years, an official report on police flaws in KwaZulu-Natal was quietly dealt out to provincial lawmakers on the final day of the legislature’s sitting last year.

So we hear from the DA leader in the province, Sizwe Mchunu, who was suspicious at it sliding out in this way.

The findings of the inquiry, launched by the KZN premier at the time, S’bu Ndebele, were not startling. They found serious faults, concluding that the police in the province were widely viewed negatively. The report recommended interventions to correct inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

More troubling than police weaknesses was the commission’s difficulties in exploring how good, or bad, police in KZN were. It was one obstacle after the next, active obstruction from the police at every turn.

The police commissioner then, Jackie Selebi, read politics into it. He thought the inquiry was aimed at him personally, and told his officers to put up roadblocks. They did, so the inquiry turned to prosecutors for information. Barriers appeared there, too.

Then community police forums started shutting their doors. The commission, rightly, was especially disturbed by their lack of co-operation. It argued that they were really responsible for civilian oversight of the police, and jeopardised this by showing a closeness to the police.

It would be surprising if there were any constructive outcomes from this commission, loathed and stymied as it was. What a disgrace the thwarting of the inquiry was, and what a waste of money.

The problems in the police force linger, might even be worse eight years on, so there could still be something salvageable from the report’s recommendations. The way it was sneaked out, however, points to a lamentable lack of political will to do so.


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