Africa-Press – South-Africa. The City of Cape Town is up in arms after President Cyril Ramaphosa poured cold water on the DA’s plans to devolve policing powers to the Western Cape.
In response to a written parliamentary question submitted by DA party leader John Steenhuisen, Ramaphosa cited section 199(1) of the Constitution which provides that the security services of South Africa consist of a single police service.
Steenhuisen wanted to know what the Western Cape government would need to secure more policing powers to achieve a safer province and the government’s policy position regarding the devolution of policing.
In response to Steenhuisen, Ramaphosa said: “In terms of Section 205(1) of the Constitution, the national police service must be structured to function in the national, provincial and, where appropriate, local spheres of government.”
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“The national commissioner is, in terms of Section 207 of the Constitution, responsible to control and manage the police service, in accordance with the national policing policy directions of the national minister of police,” he said.
Ramaphosa further said that section 207(4) of the Constitution provides that a provincial commissioner is responsible for policing in his or her province, as prescribed by national legislation and subject to the power of the national commissioner to exercise control over and manage the police service.
“The minister of police does not have policing powers and therefore cannot assign or transfer the responsibility of the national commissioner to control and manage the single national police service to a member of the provincial executive council or to a municipal council. Such transfer will be inconsistent with the provisions as contained in Chapter 11 of the Constitution, and accordingly, invalid,” he said.
The DA-led Western Cape Government, and the City of Cape Town, have been pushing for the devolution of police powers.
The provincial government believes such a move would bring down crime levels.
Last month, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis announced during a full council meeting in August that they have written to Police Minister Bheki Cele requesting that he use his constitutionally-enshrined power to give policing powers to the municipality.
In response to Ramaphosa, Hill-Lewis said the president missed an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in combatting crime.
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“I am appealing to President Ramaphosa: do not abandon our communities who are living in daily fear of violent crime, and support our call to empower local law enforcement with more policing power.
“Our fight is with criminals, not politicians. The city already has officers on the ground who can help SAPS fight crime, and we are investing millions in safety technology and coordination for more effective policing,” he added.
The city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, told News24 the president was misguided on the matter.
“We have a serious crisis on our hands, and for the national government to be too proud to let others in and to put politics before the safety of others is atrocious and condemnation worthy,” he said.