SAPS could withdraw opposition to resource allocation case

Deputy Police Minister said case would not be contested, but unclear if he meant it

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Photo of Deputy Police Minister
Deputy Minister of Police Bongani Mkhongi addressing a meeting on police resources in Khayelitsha. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

The South African Police Service (SAPS) could be withdrawing court papers that oppose the case brought against it by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Equal Education (EE) and the Nyanga Community Police Forum (CPF), which relates to allocation of police resources.

This would then pave the way for the court to grant a declaratory order that would make the SJC, EE and Nyanga CPF’s demands binding.

This comes after Deputy Police Minister Bongani Mkongi said at a meeting in Khayelitsha on 23 April that the police would not be opposing the case. The surprise comment resulted in the SJC sending a letter to the state attorney requesting confirmation as to whether SAPS is indeed withdrawing their opposing papers.

At the meeting Mkongi said: “We are not going to contest your court [case], we are going to agree with you. We are going to agree with you because if we speak about partnership of the police with the people – therefore the police must not be hostile to the progressive demand of the people. The police should support the progressive agenda of the people, because it is the police of the people, not the police of the system. So, we are not going to contest you.”

Dalli Weyers, a senior researcher in the Safety and Justice Programme at SJC, told GroundUp that Mkongi has since been in contact with SJC General Secretary Phumeza Mlungwana to gather more information about the case. He said that this was concerning as it may mean that when the Deputy Minister spoke about the court case at the meeting last month he was unaware of the “nuances” of the case.

The state attorney has not yet responded to the SJC’s request for confirmation that the police are withdrawing their papers.

Weyers said that if the papers are withdrawn the SJC will not be open to negotiation regarding their demands and that these demands would need to be implemented as per the court application. SJC, EE and Nyanga CPF are arguing that there is a constitutional obligation on SAPS to distribute resources in an equitable way. They want the court to make an order declaring that the allocation of police human resources unfairly discriminates against black and poor people. They also want the court to declare that provincial commissioners have the power to determine how resources are allocated between their stations in the provinces.

Specifically, the order would compel the Western Cape Provincial commissioner to draft a plan to reallocate resources. The court would be able to determine the constitutionality of the plan. It would also compel the Minister of Police and the National Police Commissioner to draft a plan reevaluating the distribution of resources nationally.

The case is set to be heard in the Equality Court in August but if SAPS withdraws its opposition, then a declarative order could be made sooner.

The spokesperson for the Deputy Minister had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.

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TOPICS:  Policing

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