De­ploy­ing big guns in town­ships crit­i­cised

Fik­ile urged to use spe­cial unit to po­lice gangs, not do­mes­tic abuse

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

PO­LICE Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula’s de­ci­sion to re­de­ploy mem­bers of the SAPS Tac­ti­cal Re­sponse Team (TRT) in the town­ships could meet re­sis­tance af­ter some in the ranks of the po­lice ob­jected to it.

The South African Po­lice Union (Sapu) has come out against the idea, say­ing the unit was not needed to deal with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Mbalula said in Par­lia­ment re­cently the unit needed to be re­de­ployed in the town­ships.

The Po­lice and Pris­ons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said it fully backs the min­is­ter to send the unit back into the town­ships.

But it warned against any form of bru­tal­ity if it was sent back in the next few months.

Sapu gen­eral sec­re­tary Oscar Skom­mere said yes­ter­day the TRT was not the right unit to deal with the wave of vi­o­lent crime against women and chil­dren or other crimes.

“The bring­ing in of the TRT to the sit­u­a­tion where women and chil­dren are killed will be a re­ac­tive type of (de­ploy­ment), in­stead of re­search. Crime in­tel­li­gence must be on the ground to feed in­for­ma­tion to the po­lice.

“We know the TRT are ‘skop en don­ner’ – what are you go­ing to do when a per­son is al­ready dead?” Skom­mere asked.

He said com­mu­ni­ties must as­sist the po­lice to fight crime.

“With­out the com­mu­nity, po­lice can­not win the war against crime,” said Skom­mere.

Popcru said it was fully be­hind Mbalula’s de­ci­sion to send the TRT back into the town­ships. Its spokesper­son, Richard Mam­abolo, said the unit was mis­placed in the po­lice at the mo­ment and do­ing things it was not meant to do.

He said the unit must be de­ployed to deal with kid­nap­pings, cash-in-tran­sit rob­beries and il­le­gal firearms.

Mam­abolo said most mem­bers of the TRT had been placed in the wrong de­part­ments fol­low­ing the re­struc­tur­ing of the po­lice and that they were not do­ing what they were meant to do.

But In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies se­nior re­searcher Jo­han Burger said it was wrong for Mbalula to send the unit back into the town­ships.

He said the crimes against women and chil­dren hap­pened be­hind closed doors and the TRT would not be able to deal with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases.

He said the unit was cre­ated to deal with se­ri­ous vi­o­lent crimes in­volv­ing crim­i­nal gangs armed with heavy-cal­i­bre weapons.

The TRT was trained for such sit­u­a­tions and not do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. “It was es­tab­lished to as­sist lo­cal po­lice sta­tions in sit­u­a­tions where of­fi­cers are con­fronted by heav­ily armed gangs,” Burger said.

“These TRT units need to be de­ployed to these crime scenes. These are the kind of of­fi­cers on reg­u­lar pa­trol; the bobby-on­the-beat pa­trol,” he said.

In the past four years, ag­gra­vated rob­bery has in­creased by 31% and the unit was needed in these cases, he pointed out.

Ag­gra­vated rob­beries in­cluded cash-in-tran­sit heists where crim­i­nals car­ried heavy-cal­i­bre weapons. “I think there is a place for the TRT for crimes com­mit­ted by heav­ily armed gangs,” Burger added.

DE­CI­SION DRAWS FLAK: Fik­ile Mbalula

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