The announcement of the shocking dismissal of three of the most senior South African Police Services management in Nelson Mandela Bay today must be condemned in the strongest terms.
It would appear that the dismissal of Humewood station commander Brigadier Leonie Bentley, Gelvandale station commander Brigadier Lawrence Soekoe and Brigadier Ronald Koll comes off the back of trumped-up charges and seems to be racially motivated.
This move will rip the guts out of effective policing in Nelson Mandela Bay. One cannot afford to lose officers of this calibre.
These individuals have dedicated their lives to the service of residents of Nelson Mandela Bay. Their collective knowledge and experience are irreplaceable. Their dismissals will have a crippling effect across the Metro’s policing services.
It is clear that SAPS top management has been captured by a clique that wants jobs for pals.
I will be taking this matter up with Community Safety MEC, Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga, and the EC Legislature Speaker, Helen Sauls-August.
I will also be calling on the chairperson of the Community Safety portfolio committee, Babalwa Lobishe, to call an urgent meeting of the committee in Nelson Mandela Bay, and to summon SAPS management to explain their actions to the committee.
The dismissals of Bentley, Soekoe and Koll stem from a meeting wherein they raised objection to the appointment of Brigadier Thandiswa Kupiso as Mount Road cluster commander.
The objection was raised against the backdrop of a collective agreement entered into between the SA Police Service and the two leading police unions, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and the SA Police Union (Sapu). Based on the agreement, certain positions such as that of cluster commanders would no longer exist, and a court interdict prevented such appointments from being made.
After the meeting got heated, Bentley, Soekoe and Koll asked to be excused. Evidence, including minutes from the meeting and a recording, show that permission was given, but the three have now been dismissed on charges of insubordination, for allegedly walking out of the meeting without permission.
The DA notes that statements were given by six senior officers, who have aligned themselves with Kupiso, contrary to the minutes and the recording.
In the interim, Kupiso, who is the most junior ranking Brigadier, behind these three officers, has also since been named as acting Nelson Mandela Bay district commissioner.
I will be submitting questions to MEC Tikana-Gxothiwe, to find out what has happened to the cases of perjury and defeating the ends of justice opened against the individuals who allegedly perjured themselves in the case. I will also be asking why the Independent Police Investigative Directorate allegedly refused to open cases when approached by the accused.
It appears these dismissals are racially motivated, to open the top leadership structures to favouritism. The DA will continue to fight for a professional police service that puts service delivery first.