Cape Town – What is happening with the Nelson Mandela Bay metro police?
Why is it still not operational, four years after it was established? And who is now in charge, and who do they work with?
These were some of the questions police and metro heads faced in Parliament on Wednesday when they gave a presentation on the status of the metro police around the country.
Internal fights and various unnamed challenges were said to be the problems facing the unit, which has not got off the ground in four years.
Lieutenant General Sello Kwena told the committee that they did not have authority over the metros, as they were completely independent.
They had invited the acting police chief in Nelson Mandela Bay, but the invitation was not taken up. They did not know why.
Former chief fired
He was reluctant to say anything further on the unit, except that it was not up and running.
ANC MP Phindile Mmola was not impressed with the non-answers and called for “whoever was in charge of the metro police there to come here to explain what is going on there”.
Another ANC MP, Risimati Mavunda, said the discussion should be tabled for when they could get actual answers, instead of conflicting reports from the various heads at the committee meeting.
Former Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Police chief Pinkie Mathabathe was fired at the end of May for underperformance and for failing to declare a second income.
She, however, did not take the decision lying down. In July, Mathabathe took the matter to court, hoping that the Johannesburg Labour Court would set aside the metro’s decision to fire her.
Some of the arguments she raised against the metro’s decision included not having a fair disciplinary hearing and being unfairly dismissed.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting in Parliament, Tshwane Metro Police chief Steve Ngobeni said it was concerning that the Nelson Mandela Bay unit was not yet up and running.
But, he said, the regional unit had advertised for someone to fill Mathabathe’s position and that hopefully a candidate would be found soon.
“We are hoping they can stabilise so that, together as metros, we can move in a similar sequence,” he said.
Committee chairperson Francois Beukman said the committee would be heading to Nelson Mandela Bay next week and would hopefully be able to get answers and timelines.
The metro police and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) were also grilled on vetting procedures, training for crowd control and the cases against police officers under investigation by Ipid.
The metro police were also quizzed on their actions during the #OccupyLuthuliHouse protest.