The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defense and Military Veterans, Mr Cyril Xaba, commend the good work done by both the South African Police Service (Saps) and the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) in enforcing the 21-day lock down declaration made by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the fight against COVID-19.
“Despite the challenges posed by this virus and the threat to life, the security subdivision of the state has embraced the calling to serve and protect South Africa and all who live within it. Their sacrifice and commitment to serve their country is both commendable and appreciated,” Ms Joemat-Pettersson said.
Both committees have reemphasized their calls for citizens’ full cooperation and compliance with regulations to enable the police and soldiers to do their jobs without any hindrance.
“A collaborative effort between communities, the SANDF and the Saps will go a long way in empowering us to defeat this disease. The only way to conquer this virus is through adherence to all regulations, as set out by government, and adherence to protocols set out by the World Health Organisation,” Mr Xaba said.
As the country navigates through this challenging time, South Africans must keep in mind that the role of the police and security forces is to ensure the effectiveness of the regulations. The citizenry must at all times observe guidance from the police and security forces.
Both committees have noted with concern various reports suggesting that the security forces are abusing their powers in enforcing the regulations. Both committees reemphasize the call made by the Commander-in-Chief that the police and soldiers must act at all times with compassion and within the confines of the law.
The senior management of both the Saps and the SANDF must urgently investigate the allegations of abuse of power, implement corrective measures against those identified to have erred, and put in place strategies to prevent such occurrences from happening again, both Chairpersons recommended.
The office of the Military Ombud investigates complaints from members of the public concerning the official conduct of a soldier on duty. Mr Xaba said that this office remains active throughout the lock down and citizens are encouraged to direct any complaints to this office. They can be contacted by email on email@example.com or via WhatsApp on 012 676 3800.
Similarly, the offices of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate can be approached in all provinces to report abuse of power by the police.
Despite these concerns, both committee chairpersons reiterate their support for the work of the Saps and SANDF, when it is done within the confines of the law. Human rights should still be respected even during the lockdown period. The chairpersons have committed to engaging senior commanders in both the Saps and SANDF to ensure that adherence to the rule of law is guaranteed.
Furthermore, both committees wish all Saps and SANDF members and medical personnel well as they continue to serve and embark on this critical role in the frontline of the fight against Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the police portfolio committee has noted the readiness of members of Community Police Forums (CPFs) to assist the security forces in enforcing the regulations. However, the Chairperson emphasised that, according to the regulations currently, they are not classified as emergency services. “We must commend members of the CPFs for their willingness to serve, but must emphasise that regulations must be applied across the board in all provinces without exception,” Ms Joemat-Pettersson said.