Cape Town - Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer has hit out at the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry which he says placed tremendous strain on an already overburdened police force.
“Our staff could not perform all their operational functions because they were busy with work for the commission. We had to supply more than 50 000 copies to the commission and this placed pressure on us,” Lamoer said.
He was speaking at the introductory session of newly appointed Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko who on Tuesday met senior police management and the 150 station commanders in the province.
In response, commission secretary Amanda Dissel said they were appreciative of the police’s co-operation. “The only thing I can say is that we were very appreciative of the documents police submitted to us. I don’t know the amount of documents which were submitted to us, but without it we would not be able to complete our work.”
The commission was established by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille on August 24, 2012 to investigate complaints of inefficiencies at three Khayelitsha police stations as well as an alleged breakdown in relations between the Khayelitsha community and police.
The commission concluded its work on May 29.
Dissel did not want to respond to questions on whether Lamoer’s comments were unfair.
Lamoer also said the Western Cape Liquor Bill and the city’s liquor by-law were “problematic”.
“The city’s and province’s liquor by-laws are not consistent with the national laws. We are governed by national government and I hope that the new minister can use his political influence.”
He said supplying the provincial Community Safety Department is another demanding function as statistics are monitored and released nationally.
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said he would take up Lamoer’s concern. “I wish the police would supply us with information on a regular basis. They (police) never supply us with statistics, we have to hammer them to release stats more regularly.”
Lamoer also called for spaza shops to be better regulated by the government as they were becoming a target.
“Spaza shop robberies account for 65 percent of all robberies in the province. In some policing areas there are more than 100 spaza shops and they are not regulated by any authority. This needs to be looked at.”
Another problem was officers exiting the force “at a rampant pace”.
“If one would look at the number of attacks on police officers… it is demoralising. Since the start of the year, we have lost a police officer almost every month,” Lamoer said.
Nhleko said: “We need to ask ourselves why we are in the police force.
“We deliver an essential service to South Africans and our economy.
“We can still have our ranks, but that should not determine the way we approach our work,” he said.