Top Northern Cape public order cop on UN mission as protesters run riot at home
The provincial head of the SAPS Operational Response Service, Brigadier Monica Sebili, has come under fire for being in Sudan while unruly protesters ran amok, terrorising motorists and community members during several protests that erupted in the city on Thursday.
The legal adviser for the Northern Cape Civics Organisation, Ross Henderson, pointed out that the Public Order Police (POPs) could not function without a provincial head.
“Kimberley is burning while there was a serious shortage of POPS members, who had to divide their attention and resources to attend to protests that took part in different parts of the city yesterday. There would have been big trouble if unrest also occurred in the surrounding districts at the same time. Opportunists took advantage of a serious service delivery protest to cause havoc, including throwing stones at vehicles and intimidating the police and residents, thereby threatening their safety,” said Henderson.
He added that Sebili was entitled to her salary from the SAPS while she was in Sudan, as well as allowances while she was out of the country, and a lump sum upon her return.
National police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe explained that Sebili was on a United Nations peacekeeping mission.
“She was selected as part of the South African Police Service’s External Deployment unit to ensure peace and stability in the continent. The programme has been running since 2005, where more than 1 500 officers are taking part. Brigadier Sebili happens to be part of those that have been selected to represent the country at these missions,” said Mathe.
She said that the mission delivered humanitarian aid and policing duties.
“Officers acquire skills that can be used to train officers and impart knowledge and expertise upon their return.”
Mathe added that an acting head had been appointed in Sebili’s absence.
‘A capable member with the rank of colonel is acting in her position and therefore there is no adverse impact on service delivery.
“While the brigadier’s role is that of co-ordination and supervision, there are capable commanders for POP and tactical response team (TRT) units, who have held the fort since her departure and report directly to the acting head, who then reports to the acting deputy provincial commissioner responsible for policing and ultimately the acting provincial commissioner.”
She indicated that additional POPs members from around the Province were called in to assist in handling the protests yesterday.
“The SAPS continues to monitor the situation and will act accordingly within the parameters of the law to address any lawlessness and acts of violence.
“We wish to applaud the bravery and commitment of officers who have worked to enforce the national lockdown and who diligently attend to their duties.”
Mathe added that police officers were trained to carry out their duties with minimum force when enforcing crowd control measures in potentially dangerous situations.
“There are tactics used to disperse gatherings and we are confident that our specialised units are highly trained to respond to any threat.”
She said that the police would continue to monitor the situation to restore law and order in the city.
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