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Cape Town - The police ministry has dismissed Democratic Alliance claims that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and his deputy Maggie Sotyu “do not take their jobs seriously”.
The claim, by the DA's Dianne Kohler-Barnard on Wednesday, was “attention-seeking and we want to dismiss it as such”, ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi said in a statement.
Kohler-Barnard had accused Mthethwa and Sotyu of not taking the latest crisis in the SA Police Service seriously, as they were not in the National Assembly on Wednesday to reply to questions.
Mthethwa was on honeymoon until March 12, “conveniently missing questions to the minister by six days”. Sotyu was on “an expensive trip to New York” with Women, Children, and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana, she said.
Mnisi said Kohler-Barnard was misleading the public and had given the impression that Mthethwa was absent without official leave, and that Sotyu's trip was unofficial.
“For the record, the minister's leave is official and does not represent any dereliction of his duties. The deputy minister is also on an official work engagement.
“The fight against crime is not a one-man or one-woman show. We work as a collective. As members of the (SA Police Service) SAPS, we all bring different, yet complementary expertise in the fight against crime,” he said.
The government's crime statistics, supported by various independent industry statistics, indicated a downward trend in most crime categories.
Such successes were not achieved by the minister and his deputy, but a collective.
Acting Police Minister Siyabonga Cwele had answered questions in the Assembly on Wednesday, because the task formed part of his responsibilities - responsibilities he was familiar with, both in his acting capacity, as well as state security minister.
“There is nothing sinister about this. For the record, government's programmes in fighting crime are co-ordinated at the justice, crime prevention, and security cluster level. Minister Cwele forms part of this cluster; as such he is acutely conversant with government's overall crime fighting strategy.”
Some of the other issues raised by Kohler-Barnard were “sensational and generalising”.
“In relation to police brutality, what is important is to ensure that we act against any allegation of police brutality no matter who is involved,” Mnisi said.
For the DA to paint a misleading depiction, as though all 200 000 plus SAPS members were brutal, was tarnishing and unfair to some hardworking police.
Almost on a daily basis, police officers faced some of the “heartless criminals” who would not hesitate to kill or harm them.
“These are the real heroes, not people who are always negatively critiquing even the good work that is done by our officers,” he said. - Sapa