The City wants the police to roll out a bigger contingent of Public Order Police officers (Pops) to curb the spate of illegal land invasions plaguing Cape Town. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA).
The City wants the police to roll out a bigger contingent of Public Order Police officers (Pops) to curb the spate of illegal land invasions plaguing Cape Town. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA).

City of Cape Town wants more public order police to help curb land invasions

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Sep 8, 2020

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Cape Town - The City wants the police to roll out a bigger contingent of Public Order Police officers (Pops) to curb the spate of illegal land invasions plaguing Cape Town.

The City said it had put forward a request to Parliament’s portfolio committee on police to increase the public order policing units in the Cape Metro to help deal with land invasions.

However, ANC provincial spokesperson on community safety Mesuli Kama said the City wanted to suppress protests against poor services.

“It is clear the City is more worried about suppressing service delivery protests than improving relations with residents, upping service delivery quality and treating people better, than dragging them around undignified and naked in public.”

He accused the City of wanting to control people with beefed up public order police “rather than tackling the root cause of the anger”.

“To now say Cape Town needs more heavily armed stormtroopers says it prefers strong-arm tactics to a human rights-based policing presence,” said Kama.

Mayor Dan Plato claimed that there were 135 fewer Pops officials in the Western Cape since 2018. This was according to a parliamentary question response by Police Minister Bheki Cele on July 17, Plato said

He said everyone saw the nature of recent Cape Town land invasions in the media and the suburbs, and the “huge spike of well-organised” invasion attempts in more than 30 parts of the metro.

He said with its limited resources the City was standing firm against land invasions, but could not do it alone.

“We need public order policing support to protect land intended for housing, community facilities, schools, transport, and basic services,” Plato said.

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said the City had put forward a request to the committee to increase Pops units since there were only four units in the entire province.

Smith said that this compared “unfairly with other provinces which enjoyed greater Pops with far less need for them”.

Plato said that he had written to the National Police Commissioner, Khehla Sitole, on August 28 about sending more public order policing support to Cape Town.

He also claimed that in June, he called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to co-ordinate an urgent response to the national crisis of land invasions.

Committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in a meeting last week the committee emphasised the need for greater collaboration between SAPS and the City, which was a central pillar in the fight against criminality.

Joemat-Pettersson said regarding deployment of additional Pops units in the city, while the committee had no power to prescribe to the SAPS on their deployment strategy, it was of the view that deployment must be commensurate with the need.

“The Provincial Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, in its planning capacity, is in a better place to advise on safety and security requirements in the province,” she said.

She added that Sitole had assured that the province was adequately resourced through a specialised project.

The perceived lack of resourcing did not give the City permission to utilise level 3 Pop equipment, Joemat-Pettersson added.

“The SAPS has not given permission for this, nor for the training of law enforcement members to react in Pops capacities, other than first responders,” she said.

Cape Argus

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