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No answers on SONA from WCape police

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Western Cape police could not answer questions about action taken during the state-of-the-nation address as it was a national operation, provincial commissioner Arno Lamoer said in Cape Town on Wednesday.

“It is a national event. It is a national operation. There are different role players in that,” Lamoer told chairwoman of the provincial standing committee on community safety, Mireille Wenger.

The committee had called him in to get insight and clarification on what police did in the parliamentary precinct during President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation speech on February 12.

He said the committee needed to address questions to the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints).

Natjoints, which is mandated to secure major national events, includes the police, defence force, metro police departments, and intelligence bodies.

Lamoer said he could not discuss any operational details about that day because the media was present.

Wenger replied that the provincial legislature could not exclude the public and media unless it was reasonable and justifiable to do so.

She added that the purpose of the meeting was for provincial police to shed some light on its role that day.

The committee had asked questions relating to the arrest of four Democratic Alliance members on charges of public violence, ahead of the state-of-the-nation address.

Last week, the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed the charges against DA MP Marius Redelinghuys, DA Cape metro chairman Shaun August, and two other party members, were withdrawn due to insufficient evidence.

Lamoer said police officers had the power to arrest someone suspected of breaking the law.

His department would investigate allegations that the party’s members were driven around for four or five hours in a police van.

“If any of my members transgresses, I will take action against that. We are still looking at what is going on there… so the investigation is not yet concluded.”

He said the DA members could approach the provincial police ombudsman, public protector, or the police’s own inspectorate.

Wenger said there seemed to be quite a heavy police presence on that day and asked whether there had been a particular threat to national security or fear of disruption.

Lamoer replied that police presence that day was not out of the ordinary.

He would be able to provide figures in writing on how many officers were present that day and how many arrests were made.

“The threat itself, that is really a question that needs to be asked to state security,” he said.

Wenger thanked him for attending and said some of the committee’s questions remained unanswered. SAPA

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