Cape Town – Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has admitted the relationship breakdown between the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and the police, which was on display in Parliament last week, was “worrisome”.
Mbalula told journalists in Parliament on Tuesday that he was fully aware of the impasse between IPID and the SAPS when they were summoned to appear before the portfolio committee on police a week ago.
“It is worrisome the posture that was taken before the committee, but nonetheless the portfolio committee called for that,” he said at a pre-budget press briefing.
“They basically called for both structures to appear, and it was a situation of back-and-forth, in terms of accusations and counter-accusations.”
He said as police minister, they must understand their legal responsibility first before he can act.
“IPID must do its work, within the prescripts of the law, and at the same time ensure that those cases of police corruption are brought to book.
“They must selfishly guard their own independence.”
Mbalula admitted that IPID was not enjoying the funding it deserved, after IPID head Robert McBride told Parliament earlier this month that they were struggling to stay afloat.
He said it was a matter worth exploring.
“We don’t have any issue with regards to the investigations of any police official, be it the [acting] national police commissioner or anyone else.
“We are looking at the issue, and we will respond when we are ready.”
Mbalula deflected questions about the acting national police commissioner’s accusations that IPID had been “captured” by private investigator Paul O’Sullivan.
He said Phahlane probably had cogent reasons for his belief, and that journalists should ask Phahlane himself.
“I’m not his spokesperson, I’m his minister. So you should ask him.”
He said it was worrisome for him if IPID was not going to be IPID, but something else.
“I want IPID to expose rogue behaviour, and bring it to book. I want them to be fully funded so they have got the capacity.
“If they do not have capacity, they will fall into the hands of people with agendas. But I don’t discuss national security with journalists, I talk about it in my cocoon.”
New permanent police commissioner
He said the department will embark on the process of finding a new permanent police commissioner in the coming months, as suspended police commissioner Riah Phiyega’s term comes to an end in June.
“Before the end of the year, we will have another sheriff in town.”
Mbalula also touched on his ministry’s upcoming budget, R87bn, and what plans he has for his department going forward.
Various policies have been revised on his instruction, including the functioning of the detective services, the management of serial rape and murder, an anti-gang strategy, a “use of force” policy, and removing barriers to reporting on sexual offences and violent crimes.
“Here in South Africa, there is no thug or gangster that can stop us from searching them.
“It threatens our national security if some of our police force members are accused of being in the pockets of the gangsters.”
He also reaffirmed that the white paper on establishing a single, unified police service was in consultation phase.