Cape Town - With a budget of R10 million set out for its first year in operation, the Western Cape’s first police ombudsman’s office is set to open its doors to the public by January, to probe complaints of police inefficiency.
The ombudsman’s office will be in the city centre, but will also have a “walk-in” facility for the public to lodge complaints.
The provincial parliament’s standing committee on community safety last week unanimously approved Premier Helen Zille’s recommendation that former National Prosecuting Authority head advocate Vusi Pikoli be appointed as the province’s first police ombudsman.
Zille hand-picked Pikoli following his work on the Khayelitsha commission of inquiry, but the premier needed the go-ahead from the standing committee to seal the deal.
“His (Pikoli’s) experience in listening to the concerns of the public about the quality of policing during the sittings of the commission and the considered report that the commission produced, led me to approach advocate Pikoli and ask if he would consider the post of ombudsman,” Zille wrote in a letter to Speaker Sharna Fernandez.
The provincial Community Safety Department has already started recruiting the team Pikoli will work with.
Briefing the standing committee on the progress made in setting up the office of the ombudsman, Community Safety’s chief director Gideon Morris said a deputy director, two assistant directors and three investigators had already been appointed. They would take up their duties next monthand in December.
Outlining the budget, Morris told the committee members that the operational budget had been included in the medium- term expenditure framework as from 2014/15.
“The budget for the current financial year is just over R10m, R11.4m for the 2015/16 financial year and R11.8 for 2016/17,” he said.
Asked by ANC MPL Pat Lekker about the recruitment process followed for appointing the police ombudsman and if the job was advertised, Morris replied: “The act does not require a normal human resources appointment, it is an appointment made by the premier at her discretion.”
He pointed out that the ombudsman was appointed for a non-renewable term not exceeding five years.
DA chief whip Mark Wiley said the recommendation that Pikoli be accepted as the first police ombudsman in the Western Cape was an historic event.
Wiley said that when Pikoli’s appointment was finalised he would have his work cut out for him.
The ombudsman would have the powers to institute investigations, direct any person to submit an affidavit, give evidence, and produce any documents bearing on the matter being probed.
If a complaint was of a serious nature the ombudsman could also recommend to the premier that a commission of inquiry be appointed.