The DA’s John Steenhuisen made the allegations while campaigning with outgoing Western Cape Premier Helen Zille in Kempton Park last week.
Steenhuisen told supporters the DA had a rural safety strategy that would help fight crime, saying “the truth of the matter is that there was a massive vacuum left in rural safety when the commando system was disbanded under the then minister of defence, Lekota, and we were told there was going to be a new system, but his new system never arrived,” Steenhuisen said.
Steenhuisen’s comments irked Cope, and they labelled his statement as similar to the “National Party tactics of ‘swart gevaar’ in order to maintain a grip on the white voters”.
Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said Steenhuisen’s accusations that Lekota disbanded the commandos was disingenuous, dishonest and amounted to political thuggery.
“The Constitution made the formation of any paramilitary force unlawful in South Africa, and not Mr Lekota,” he said.
Bloem said the police were allowing civilians to become part of the reservists and any citizen who wanted to participate in the fight against crime could join the SAPS and become a reservist.