Fritz wants Ipid probe into ’cruelty’ of cops in Sassa debacle
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Cape Town - The Community Safety MEC will request that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) investigate the use of a water cannon on the elderly outside Sassa’s Bellville office.
Western Cape MEC Albert Fritz said he will request that Ipid urgently investigate the actions of the SAPS Public Order Policing (POP) unit’s deployment on January 15 which resulted in the use of a water cannon against vulnerable grant recipients.
The incident coincided with the visit of the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu.
Fritz said: “It is essential that those responsible for these cruel actions against the most vulnerable in our society be identified and not be protected through redacted reports, such as the version I received from the Acting Provincial Commissioner, General Manci, on 28 January 2021.
“The response failed to answer the substantive elements of my enquiry.”
In terms of Section 21 of the IPID Act (Act 1 of 2011), “(1) A provincial head is responsible for the following: … (j) to report to the relevant MEC on matters referred to the Provincial Head by that MEC.
Section 28(1)(h) of the Ipid Act furthermore prescribes that the Directorate must investigate any matter referred to them by an MEC.
Fritz said he will request that Ipid provide clarity on:
- Who requested the deployment of SAPS’ POPs unit.
- Which resources were mobilised.
- Why it was necessary to deploy the resources used, including a water cannon, at a ministerial oversight visit.
“I have previously expressed my unconditional concern about the unacceptable behaviour of the police towards Sassa beneficiaries, and I am determined to use all my powers of oversight to get to the bottom of the circumstances that resulted in such a decision being made and implemented by SAPS,” Fritz added.
“It is further unclear to me why Sassa had not implemented the relevant measures to maintain social distancing and to prevent such long queues outside their Bellville office.”
He said that his oversight powers are further bolstered by section 4 (3) (a) of the Western Cape Community Safety Act which states that “in order to perform the functions in terms of this Act, the Provincial Minister or any employee or person authorised in terms of subsection (1) or (2), (a) may request and obtain information and documents under the control of the police service or a municipality in question”.
Fritz added that in line with this oversight function, he has written to Police Minister Bheki Cele requesting the police’s official report on what transpired, and has received no response to date.
“This is extremely worrying, as he should treat this as a priority – with the same passion he seemingly pursued beach patrols over the last while.
“Going forward, I will also be writing to the National Commissioner to request a meeting and discuss, among others, the events which transpired at the Sassa Bellville office.”
Fritz said that he was deeply concerned by the way the police responded, how the order was given and by whom.
“These hostile actions undermined the dignity of the many vulnerable people who were standing in the line. It is unacceptable that residents should suffer the double insult of having to wait long periods for basic service delivery and still be treated poorly by SAPS.”