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War of words set to continue over City of Cape Town’s SSIU unit as Cele prepares to reply

In the latest exchange Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has accused Herron of undermining crime fighting in Cape Town and said if Herron gets his way, criminals and corrupt cops will be let off the hook. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

In the latest exchange Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has accused Herron of undermining crime fighting in Cape Town and said if Herron gets his way, criminals and corrupt cops will be let off the hook. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jan 10, 2022

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Cape Town - The war of words between the City and GOOD Party secretary-general Brett Herron following his letter asking Police Minister Bheki Cele to investigate the legality of the City’s Safety and Security Investigation Unit (SSIU) looks set to continue as the police ministry prepares to respond.

Police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said on Sunday they had finally received Herron’s letter asking Cele to probe the allegedly unconstitutional unit and they would be responding in due course.

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Herron had said in his letter that the SSIU is a policing/intelligence structure that operates outside the parameters of the Police Act and, unlike the Municipal Police Service, is not subject to provincial oversight.

In the latest exchange Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has accused Herron of undermining crime fighting in Cape Town and said if Herron gets his way, criminals and corrupt cops will be let off the hook and City residents will pay the price.

Hill-Lewis said Herron’s appeal to Cele was inexplicable and that far from yielding policing and enforcement powers, his administration is working hard to devolve far more of those powers to the City.

“We know we will use them to better protect residents both from criminals and from the failing national state.

“Residents cannot rely on SAPS to keep them safe. While there are many hard-working SAPS officers, the fact is that it is another national service that is in steep decline, with devastating consequences for the lives of citizens.”

Herron has meanwhile dismissed Hill-Lewis’s response as “a dangerous contempt for the constitutional order”.

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Herron said the mayor was wrong to suggest that his call for an investigation into the City’s SSIU was a plan to undermine crime fighting in Cape Town and that in fact he was all about improving the fight against crime.

Herron said Hill-Lewis’s response exposed his lack of understanding of the law and showed dangerous contempt for the constitutional order.

“Cape Town deserves to be led by a mayor who accepts that he and his government cannot pick and choose which laws they will comply with and which laws they don’t regard as applying to them.”

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He said municipal police services are established and operate in terms of the Police Act and that this in turn gave the MEC the powers and duty of oversight.

In July last year Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz responded to Herron’s questions in the legislature about the unit and said that the SIU is not part of the municipal police services and therefore was not accountable to him or subject to his oversight.

“If the City of Cape Town’s SIU is a legitimate municipal police service operating within the law then I call on Hill-Lewis to explain what its policing powers are and where they are derived from,” Herron said.

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