Leave serious crime to SAPS, metro cops told
Cape Town - One of the Western Cape’s most senior police commanders has told the metro police to stick to enforcing by-laws and leave the SAPS to handle serious crime.
General Jeremy Veary, who is the head of the Nyanga cluster, instructed the SAPS to withdraw from a joint operation with city law enforcement dubbed Operation Sisonke, which was set to run for six months in Nyanga, Gugulethu, Athlone, Manenberg and Philippi.
But JP Smith, the city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the joint operation had been reaping rewards in the “crime-ridden areas”.
Smith said the city law enforcement was still doing joint operations with police in other areas.
City law enforcement heads were told by senior police in July that Veary had withdrawn all SAPS officers from the operation.
The reason, Veary told the Cape Argus this week, was that the SAPS had the skills to conduct the operations and said the city should focus on its mandate around by-law enforcement. He said that, ultimately, the decision was based on making sure each agency delivered on its duties. “By-laws are not the job of SAPS, that is the job of the city’s forces.”
He said SAPS had “all the specialised competencies to deliver successfully at the scale required”.
“Why give me 10 people for drug operations when none of the by-laws are being focused on? I would rather more effort go into by-law policing.” Veary said joint operations were welcome when there were no SAPS staff with that experience.
He said the decision had been discussed in the provincial cabinet and all the reasons had been fully explained.
The metro police were informed they would no longer be issued with search warrants by the SAPS and were advised to approach a magistrate’s court for a warrant.
Veary said the warrants should be obtained during normal court hours and based on “recent discoveries” of illegal activities.
In this process, officers must submit a statement under oath. If they need to obtain a warrant after court hours, there must be clear reasons why they had not made the request earlier and the standby magistrate should be contacted. And if this magistrate is not available, only a “commissioned officer” could issue a warrant.
“Without this procedure there would be arbitrary and unilateral abuse of power and authority, which would be unconstitutional.”
Although metro police were providing the information for the warrant, the police would still be held liable for any possible civil claims from residents’ homes that were searched.
“We were approached by the SAPS for this operation and we came up with a clear plan looking at all aspects. We redirected resources to the area and used overtime budgets, and it was working. Then Veary came in and pulled the plug.”
He pointed to media articles in which provincial police boss General Arno Lamoer stated the SAPS’s intention to build solid relations with the city. But this move “demonstrates something different”. The operations have carried on, but the withdrawal of SAPS was “extremely demoralising”.