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Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC defends 'Charlie, Bravo, amid outrage

Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagan Allen.Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagan Allen.Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 26, 2023

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While some neighbourhood watches received backlash for profiling black people as “Bravo”, coloureds as “Charlie” and whites as “Whiskeys”, Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagan Allen has defended the use of the terms in a public announcement for the Chrysalis Academy intake.

These references caused outrage when it was previously discovered that some neighbourhood watches use them to refer to people of these races in their areas.

However, Allen believes that “racism” shouldn’t be seen in everything and that addressing and combating racism is “very important.”

“Seeking to equate the valuable work at the Academy with racism is mind-boggling and quite frankly disingenuous. In fact, it makes a mockery of our aim to remove racism from our society. It is regrettable that these terms now have racial connotations.”

In its call for applicants for January 2024, the department said it sought to admit 230 men into the “23 CHARLIE males course’’, while women for the 23 BRAVO, female course would be selected from the 2022 waiting list.

“The course consists of various phases, and amongst others, the students will receive training in first aid, basic cookery, security training, peace officer, welding, office administration and electrical circuitry.

“The programme commences with an induction, and includes other topics such as personal mastery, emotional intelligence, leadership, diversity, drilling and fitness.

“Along with this, there is also a curriculum in healthy living, environmental awareness and conflict management, which is all done in an effort to develop important life skills,” said the department in the announcement.

While the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) confirmed that the use of the words was discriminatory although the interventions are welcomed, Allen said: “The NATO phonetic alphabet as well as the financial year have been used as course descriptors, with ALPHA being the first one for the financial year, BRAVO, being the second, and CHARLIE being the third, etc. This course descriptor has been adopted as we do run a structured and regimented programme which helps with accurate data collection and analysis,” he said.

SAHRC Commissioner Chris Nissen said calling the programmes Charlie and Bravo was an insult.

“They are coming to train as officers who should be treated with dignity, and not racially profiled. As a department that works with neighbourhood watches, they should be aware of this.

We thank the MEC but the department should be more sensitive to the use of the words because they are discriminatory,” he said.

Cape Coloured Congress (CCC) leader Fadiel Adams said it did not come as a shock that the the DA-led government “still” used these “derogatory” terms. “Racial profiling is all the DA knows. This won't be the last time because this is what the party knows.

They preach non racialism but are ignorant to what affects black people. The terms for these programmes are used to describe races, and they are aware of this,” he said.

Premier Winde’s office did not respond to questions and referred the Cape Times to Allen's department.

ANC provincial secretary Neville Delport said: “The Western Cape Government should be ashamed of itself for engaging in this type of behaviour. We urge the Western Cape Government to immediately end this discriminatory practice.

“Our member of parliament responsible for police oversight and community safety will clearly take this matter up in the Legislature and express the ANC's disgust at this discriminatory practice by the DA government.”

Cape Times