CAPE TOWN – Cape Town’s Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has slammed propositions to shut down the local policing Safety and Security Investigations Unit (SSIU).
Hill-Lewis said Cape Town’s administration will continue to build and expand local policing powers and sees it as the only way Capetonians will be safer as he believes residents cannot rely on the South African Police Service (SAPS) to keep them safe.
“While there are many hard-working SAPS officers, the fact is that it is another national service that is in steep decline, with devastating consequences for the lives of citizens,” he said.
The Mayor’s comments come after Good party secretary-general Brett Herron penned a letter to Police Minister Bheki Cele requesting the legality of the SSIU be investigated, which IOL reported on Thursday.
Herron argued that the SSIU should be shut down because it operates outside the parameters of the Police Act and was not subject to provincial oversight.
“Herron appears to be actively working to undermine Cape Town’s local policing powers in an effort to strengthen the hand of national Police Minister Bheki Cele, with whom Herron’s political party is in partnership at national level,” Hill-Lewis claimed on Friday.
“If he gets his way, criminals and corrupt cops will be let off the hook and residents will pay the price,” the Mayor continued.
Hill-Lewis credits the SSIU for Cape Town maintaining “its record for the lowest levels of corruption among its policing and enforcement staff”.
However, he claims the head of SSIU, Reynold Talmakkies was appointed despite a pending prosecution involving the tampering of dockets while working for the SAPS in Mpumalanga.
And the leader of the opposition in the provincial legislature, the ANC’s Cameron Dugmore believes the SSIU is part of the corruption problem, he said.
He said this in response to an ongoing court matter into allegations of fraud and corruption in Cape Town’s Housing maintenance department.
SSIU’s role, according to Mayor Hill-Lewis:
- Address internal discipline – so that we do not degenerate into the bribe-taking chaos observed in police forces elsewhere in South Africa.
- Deal with criminal cases involving City infrastructure and City Rental Stock where units had been hijacked by gang and criminal activity.
- To assist the South African Police Service (SAPS) and City enforcement agencies with “watching briefs”, which is the monitoring and tracking of registered criminal cases through the courts.
- As such, the SSIU is responsible for the deployment of investigators who will perform watching briefs on the firearms and drug-related cases in the 10 crime hotspots to ensure that we secure convictions on these cases.