Cape Town mayor Dan Plato. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said on Monday he would approach the South African Police Service as well as the provincial police ombudsman because police stopped municipal officials from preventing the slaughter of a sheep on Clifton's Fourth Beach last week.

The ceremony, which was performed by protesters in ongoing political wrangling over the popular beach, was in contravention of local by-laws, Plato said.

"Many persons have asked why the City did not act," Plato said.

"It should be noted that, during public order policing situations, the South African Police Service assumes command over all policing staff on the scene. Senior SAPS officials in charge of the situation at Clifton on the day would not allow City and SPCA staff to act to prevent the slaughter."

He added: "We will be engaging with the SAPS on this matter, as well as with the Western Cape Police Ombudsman, as we cannot allow anyone to undermine city by-laws and prevent them from being implemented.

Plato confirmed that the city would be serving notice on the protest organiser because the sheep killing constituted a breach of by-laws.

Earlier, JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security said charges would be brought against three people over the incident.

The protest was organised by lobby group the Black People's National Crisis Committee after a furore broke out because a private security company, Professional Protection Alternatives (PPA), asked visitors to leave the beach because of alleged security concerns.

Political opponents to the Democratic Alliance, which controls the city and the Western Cape province, charged that Black Africans and Coloureds were asked to leave in a move reminiscent of beach segregation under apartheid.

Plato said it understood the PPA staff asked people of all races to leave the beach.

"The feedback I have received is that, despite the insinuation that particular races groups were targeted, all race groups were in fact asked to leave the beach; and they were asked in a peaceful, non-aggressive manner."

But he stressed that only police had the power to enforce the law and confirmed that the city planned to lay a complaint against the company with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) and said this should clear up some of the questions over the incident.

Until such time, Plato asked that people desist from inflammatory rhetoric, and urged the public to alert the city's hotline on 0800 32 32 20 if they had any concerns about the conduct of staff or any person claiming to have peace officer status.

"Going forward, we remind the public that our facilities are open to all and that only uniformed city staff have the power to enforce by-laws.  Anyone else who claims to have such powers is likely impersonating a peace officer, which is an offence."

African News Agency (ANA)