AT A time when the national police commissioner is facing a board of inquiry into her fitness for office following her role in the Marikana killings, her acting successor has announced changes in the nomenclature of the officials who serve the public in our police service.
One could be forgiven for thinking that the changes actually announced (new military titles for the old Bheki Cele-inspired ones) have sprung from a misreading of the National Development Plan (NDP). One of the best changes when the new SA dawned was the conversion of the old police force into a police service. No longer would the police be the instruments of an oppressive regime. Instead, they would serve the people by preventing and combating crime.
The report of the Farlam inquiry summed it up: “The National Planning Commission in its report, which has been accepted as government policy, has made a number of important recommendations regarding the need to demilitarise the SAPS and to professionalise the police. These recommendations must be implemented as a matter of urgency.”
The UN Human Rights Commission has criticised government for not implementing these recommendations. The demilitarisation of the police is not going to be achieved by ignoring the NDP, the Farlam recommendations and the UN’s well-founded criticisms. It is to be hoped that the minister of police will be made to answer questions by MPs of all parties who are concerned to exercise oversight and exact accountability from the executive branch of government regarding its fealty to the policy set out in the NDP, and as regards the minister’s willingness to get on with the implementation of the Farlam commission recommendations.
Paul Hoffman SC
Director, Accountability Now