The ANC once painted the police as a demon - Makhubela

COPE MP says the attitude of the people has not changed from those days

MAY 26 2011-05-26
National Council of Provinces

COPE expresses its disappointment with the department for not upholding its image with the people. Such an attitude has a long history and we are not making much progress. As a result of this, public perception about the police is suffering on the one hand, and the safety of the police is being compromised on the other hand.

It is no secret that the ANC government painted the police as a demon during the liberation days. During that time the police were marginalized, insulted, booed at, maligned, and attacked. Many were killed and necklaced, Hon Minister.  

During the years of the struggle it was common for people to say: "Bulale Izinja" [Kill the dogs, meaning kill the police]. This attitude of the people against the police has not changed, even in our new dispensation. That is why in only five months of this year, 36 police officers have already been killed. This is totally unacceptable.

Police in the 80's and 90's were necklaced, harassed and victimised and had their homes and families burned. These days a new trend has developed - they are shooting at the police in the head, as witnessed recently here in Cape Town, where two police officers were gunned down.

Instead of just wearing a bullet-vest, police officers operating in rough neighbourhoods now need bullet-helmets, Hon Minister. It is also unacceptable to send two police officers into dangerous areas.

Perceptions are a reality, Hon Minister. People still see the police as the arm of government, like in the old apartheid years, working in opposition to the people's will. 

All public protests against service delivery by innocent and unarmed civilians are repulsed using heavily armed police officials. The message from the police in the pictures beamed on television, is saying to the people: stay away from conducting legal protests, we will use the police to kill you.

The militarisation of the police is a regressive move. We need more democracy and less suppression led by Generals. The order to "shoot to kill" has put us back.

The people are not happy with the police in our communities. Even the apartheid military understood the need to win the hearts and minds of the people. Have we learnt nothing from that brutal period of our history?  

COPE would like to see more community inclusive activities introduced through the new Civilian Secretariat Bill of 2010. The police need to win the confidence and respect of communities and they should be immediately work shopped in this regard.

THE CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE would also like to see the government re-introduce the Police Safety Directorate whose sole responsibility will be to restore a positive perception of the police. The department has an enormous challenge to help normalize relations between the department and the community.  

You can fool some of the people some of the time, Hon Minister, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.  We recommend the project of "Adopt a COP" so as to mobilize citizen support for police. Henceforth, whenever police are called into informal housing areas or areas where gangs operate, communities should be encouraged to come out in support of the police.

No community should countenance the killing of a police officer. We ask the minister to encourage each school, church and other community stakeholders to adopt a cop as their community friend, as a point of contact for information, investigations or reports of suspicious goings-on. The police officer and communities must work in partnership. This project can be adopted nationally, provincially, and locally through municipalities and right down to the police station level.

We call on the people of South Africa to strengthen the arm of the Independent Complaints Directorate (formerly ICD now called IPID) and the Community Secretariat.

We have long advocated citizen democracy, and this is but one aspect of what COPE stands for.

COPE is eager to see a crime free society as a result of an accountable police force, led by leaders of integrity. No police officer must ever be tainted by any scandal as this is extremely damaging to the reputation of the police. Every scandal causes incalculable harm. Police must never ever be seen to be aiding and abetting criminals or helping to destroy the economy by turning a blind eye to white-collar crime. The police must use high quality intelligence systems to ensure high quality results. 

Issued by COPE, May 26 2011

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