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Cape Town - Western Cape Community Police Forum ex-chairman Hanif Loonat has charged that senior police officers conspired to engineer his ousting after he was told his suspension was lifted on Wednesday - but discovered he had already been voted off the board in absentia.
His lawyer Michael Bagraim said on Thursday he would be approaching the public protector to request an investigation into a process he believes was unconstitutionally manipulated.
It will be argued that enemies of Loonat in the provincial police illegally influenced proceedings in a number of CPF board meetings.
He said this “interference” included variously a “vote-of-no-confidence” brought by board members against the executive, the resignation of four executive members, a decision to elect a new executive and an election on Saturday, two weeks ago.
The positions of Loonat and two other executive members who had not resigned were treated as vacant at the election. Loonat was replaced as chairman and currently does not hold a position in the CPF.
“At various turns provisions in the CPF’s constitution were ignored in constituting this new board - a process which would ordinarily be lengthy and convoluted. We will prove this,”
Bagraim said, adding that these amounted to underhand tactics by Loonat’s enemies in the police to oust him.
This morning Loonat said: “A CPF chair can only lose his position at the end of his term, if he is criminally charged, if he brings the CPF into disrepute or if he is expelled due to misconduct.
“We argue that there is not even space for a vote-of-no-confidence from the board. My suspension was used as a stalling tactic while the police orchestrated a way to oust me in an unconstitutional way.”
Loonat was suspended by provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Arno Lamoer in July for “alleged misconduct” pertaining to statements made to the media earlier this year.
In one instance, Loonat reportedly said there was wide-scale bribery of police by gangsters in Cape Town; in the other he slammed the Athlone police for “poor service delivery”.
Bagraim said the matter of Loonat’s ousting would be referred to the public protector because this “assault on the CPF’s autonomy” was a matter of public importance.
“This issue is essentially about the police wanting to silence Loonat and the CPF from speaking to the press and from performing its role as a intermediary between the police and community,” said Bagraim, adding that the CPF was “autonomous, not an extension of the police”.
Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut confirmed that the investigation against Loonat had been withdrawn.
“It is also confirmed that a new executive committee was elected on on August 24 in line with the constitution of the Provincial Board,” he said.
The Cape Argus asked Lamoer’s office to respond to allegations that the police had unduly influenced the processes in the CPF’s election of a new board, with the aim of ousting Loonat.
At the time of going to print, a response had not been received.