A proposal by the ruling ANC-led government to merge the Metro Police service with the South African Police Services (SAPS) is facing stern opposition from the City of Cape Town, which fears the move could well remove crime prevention powers from Metro Police and leave officers with authority only in traffic and by-law enforcement. The City views the proposed merger as a significant setback and hindrance for the regional police force, likely to limit their policing operations.
Mayco member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith says such law implementations need be in the best interest of the broader public, suggesting the decision was based more on political interest and centralising the police under the control of a solitary political party.
“The only ones who win here are the people who suddenly have the Metro Police off their case. That in Cape Town would be the gangsters, because we do a lot of gang raids. It’s our specialised units that will be under siege,” he stated.
The suggestion of national government is that the merger will create better coordination in terms of policing, despite much criticism that such coordination is already lacking within the SAPS. Smith says this is in stark contrast to the Metro Police, which has better internal communication and far better conviction rates. Hence any such merging of the respective forces would not be beneficial from Metro Police’s perspective.
“We are going to sit with a long period of dispute. Instead of focusing externally on the criminals we’ll have to move that focus internally to a long period of restructuring and argument about ranks and positions, none of which serves the public interest,” he warned, adding that the current format allows citizens a ‘second option’.
Smith vowed that the City of Cape Town will take the matter up all the way to the constitutional court if need be. In addition, he has called on community members to raise their voice in support of the Metro Police.
The City are also planning to launch a petition against the move, with several local neighbourhood watches indicating they are planning a protest against the merger, where a memorandum will be handed over to national government. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)