Police minister Bheki Cele has told parliament the City of Cape Town is running an “unconstitutional” law enforcement unit using powers reserved only for the national police service.
Cele was responding to a question from GOOD party MP Brett Herron, who said the unit was “a rogue police unit acting parallel to the police service and the Hawks”.
“The functions of the municipal police service are traffic policing, [enforcing] municipal bylaws and regulations … A municipal police service does not have [a] legislative mandate to conduct criminal investigations or gather intelligence,” Cele said.
“This unit is not part of the municipal police service, but it is gathering crime intelligence, it is engaging foreign police services, for example the US FBI. It is engaging Interpol. It is doing profiles of notorious organised criminals in the Western Cape and Cape Town,” according to Herron.
He alleged the person leading the unit was a former police officer “facing criminal charges for tampering with police dockets”.
He was concerned that the unit is acting outside the constitution and police legislation, which limits the powers of municipal units.
Cele said he was engaging the City of Cape Town and Western Cape government on the legal framework.
“No doubt some other elements of government, either provincial or local, have been constitutional delinquents in the Western Cape. No doubt about it. But we have a responsibility of integrated governance,” Cele said.
“We have decided to take an easy way, a soft landing way. We have met the premier of this province and the mayor of this city to say: ‘But this can’t be’.”
Cele said the city was “bypassing the legal structure” with this unit, which does not fall under the metro police.