South Africa

POLICING ANALYSIS

SAPS and the City (of Cape Town) — turning tables of suspicions and suspension

Illustrative image | Sources: Suspended Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith. (Photo: Leila Dougan) | Police Minister Bheki Cele. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele) | Former police officer Reynold Talmakkies. (Photo: Twitter /@CambridgePolice) | Good Party secretary-general Brett Herron. (Photo: Daily Maverick/Leila Dougan)

The South African Police Service falls under the ANC and often comes under fire for claims of misconduct in its ranks. But possible cracks have started showing in security structures linked to the DA-run Western Cape government and City of Cape Town, and the politically loaded policing tables are turning.

First, in December 2021, news emerged that a prominent member of the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate had been arrested. Again.

And not even two weeks ago, news broke that the Western Cape’s community safety MEC, Albert Fritz, had been suspended — over sexual misconduct allegations, it turns out.

This is obviously worrying for several reasons.

The Western Cape is South Africa’s gangsterism capital, and the City of Cape Town is home to underworld court cases resulting from crimes including assassinations and alleged drug dealing.

Thorough, clean and unified policing is needed to tackle this.

All too often, though, there are claims of cops and government officials colluding with criminals.

This has further fuelled political tensions over policing.

The DA in the province and Cape Town run certain elements of law enforcement, but have called for what the national ANC government is opposed to — a police service run by the city because it basically feels the ANC is failing to provide adequate policing.

But it seems elements of its own safety structures may have flipped inside out.

While the ANC is often in the line of fire in this arena, the DA now seems to be increasingly feeling the heat.

This is messy terrain and in other instances — for example, the DA’s former community safety MEC, Dan Plato, was once accused of running a smear campaign against a cop with ties to the ANC, which he denied — claims of set-ups have emerged.

Daily Maverick has reported that City of Cape Town Safety and Security Directorate staffer, former police officer Reynold Talmakkies, was arrested in December 2021.

Police Minister Bheki Cele intervenes amid fresh claims of ‘rogue’ operations in Cape Town cop unit

He faced charges with two others — Asif Khan, the director of a construction company, and Paul Scheepers, a former Crime Intelligence cop — in connection with tender fraud involving hundreds of millions of rands.

Scheepers has his own politically loaded history with the city and province, having previously found himself at the centre of a spat in which the DA was accused of spying on the ANC and vice versa.

He and Talmakkies being accused in the same case is curious, as it implies two former police officers, part of the national ANC government’s SAPS, moved into DA circles and possibly got up to no good.

In the case of Talmakkies, back in April 2021 Daily Maverick revealed that he had also been criminally charged in a case involving alleged docket tampering linked to a police station in Mpumalanga.

City of Cape Town’s special investigations head charged in cop fraud case

This fraud case, in which he pleaded not guilty, appeared to date back to 2016.

Talmakkies is, therefore, an accused in two separate criminal cases in two provinces.

He was once apparently linked to the city’s controversial Safety and Security Investigations Unit (SSIU).

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said last month the unit ensured the city “maintains its record for the lowest levels of corruption among its policing and enforcement staff so that we do not degenerate into the bribe-taking chaos observed in police forces elsewhere in South Africa”. 

Talmakkies was named in media reports as the unit’s head.

In the most recent bout of controversy linked to it, the Good party’s secretary-general, Brett Herron, who was previously with the DA, labelled the SSIU a rogue unit following Talmakkies’s latest arrest.

It was not the first time the unit had been said to exceed its mandate.

Herron’s fresh claims led to Police Minister Bheki Cele’s office confirming that he would investigate the unit.

The national police service, the SAPS, would therefore probably be involved in investigating a City of Cape Town investigative unit.

Last month, the city told Daily Maverick that Talmakkies was “alternatively placed” in the Safety and Security Directorate.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith is the political head overseeing it.

The city’s website says the directorate “ensures that City by-laws and traffic regulations are enforced through the Traffic Services and Law Enforcement departments”.

It is meant to ensure that in certain instances the law is upheld.

This brings us to Fritz.

As Community Safety MEC he was meant to be overseeing safety issues in the province.

The Western Cape government’s website says: “The Department of Community Safety aims to increase safety for all the people in the Province by improving safety through effective oversight of policing, making safety everyone’s responsibility and optimising safety and security risk management.”

Fritz’s work clearly revolved around the safety of residents.

But he was suddenly suspended on 23 January 2022.

Fritz faced several allegations that were initially not officially elaborated on.

This week, following several media reports about the nature of the claims against Fritz, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said: “I am now able to confirm that those allegations relate to sexual misconduct.”

An independent investigator was appointed to look into the allegations against Fritz.

A police investigation is not ruled out.

Winde said this week: “As the South African Police Service have made clear, in order to investigate the matter, they need a charge to be laid by one of the complainants. 

“I have advised all the complainants that this can be done, and that they will be supported in doing so. The SAPS have also encouraged the same publicly.” 

Winde and Fritz don’t quite see eye to eye with Police Minister Cele. 

In October 2021, Cele said the Western Cape was one of two provinces in the country that received the most police resources. 

Winde and Fritz reacted in a joint statement: “Any person who lives in the Western Cape’s crime hotspots knows all too well that there is not enough SAPS support to fight crime, despite the hard work of many officers on the ground.”

And a few months ago, Fritz lashed out at Cele.

“The first thing that needs to happen is an upfront acknowledgement by the ANC, as the national ruling party, and by Minister Cele as the responsible minister for policing, that we need a complete rethink of the nature of policing,” he said in September 2021.

“The bottom line is, Minister Cele, policing has failed in this country, under your watch. The bottom line is, Minister Cele, every day the confidence of our citizens in a centrally controlled, centrally commanded SAPS grows less and less. 

“The bottom line is, Minister Cele, under your political watch SAPS has deteriorated into a dysfunctional, unaccountable organisation.”

If a complainant, or complainants, decide to lodge criminal complaints with the police about Fritz, it means members of this “dysfunctional, unaccountable organisation” will investigate his conduct.

The SAPS, via Cele, might also look into the city’s controversial Safety and Security Investigations Unit.

But let’s not forget that South Africa’s top police officer, National Commissioner Khehla Sitole, is the subject of two criminal complaints lodged by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

This is due to allegations, which he denied, that he did not cooperate with its investigation into why a cop who was assassinated in 2020 was not under state protection at the time.

Before this, in September 2021, Sitole was served with a suspension notice in relation to another matter — allegedly failing to assist Ipid.

It is beneath this national policing scandal that the DA’s Western Cape and City of Cape Town safety sector sagas are brewing.

And it is between these turning tables of politically loaded law enforcement fiascos that residents are stuck. DM

 

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 7

  • Well well, well. Here we go! However Caryn, you should be very careful what you write. DM contributors are possibly 80% obsessive White DA voters, and they do not like anything being said negatively about the DA! The words “service delivery” are normally the first being mentioned, followed closely by “policies”. And then, my favourite: “Vote DA”.
    Me, I agree whole-heartedly in everything you wrote in this article. There are a lot of skeletons in the closets of the main opposition party, but to that they will never admit!

    • I am no DA supporter, but let’s wait and see if there will be a difference in response between how the DA handles this and how the anc has done absolutely nothing in similar circumstances. (In fact, in their case the accused became #1)

  • You took the words out of my mouth Coen, couldn’t agree more!!!Transparency is what every citizen wants,if you bungled ,admit it!Although they are better than the anc (anybody is better than the anc) it doesn’t give you carte Blanche to do anything underhand ,etc.It seems like it is an accepted norm to allow politicians to get away with murder,while a guy that steals a loaf of bread gets locked up.Accountabilty,Transparency ,Honesty is what every citizen should expect from its public representatives, regardless of party or position!!!Thanks Caryn

    • I am a strong believer in the policies of the DA to restore the fortunes of South Africa but agree with everything that you say, ‘jcdville’.

  • Cops in this country have always been brutal, dof & sub-standard. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a DA or ANC run province. Nothing has changed in half a century, except for the racial disposition of the top brass. I have always felt uneasy in a police station, and I still do. There was a stage for a year or two, just after the first elections that it felt a bit different, but then it slid right back again to them being ‘the boere’.

  • I am disappointed with the article by Caryn Dolley; disappointed because she has fallen into the trap used by Malema in his attempt to discredit one of the Judges by making completely unsubstantiated claims of sexual abuse. CD in her article has used innuendo and hearsay in her attempt to discredit Cape Town’s Metro Police. In the one case her hearsay source is a disgruntled former member of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee, who now sits with one foot in the Opposition and the other in Government. The other case of misconduct was “of a sexual nature” and had nothing to do with competency or otherwise; and in any case Fritz was exposed by Alan Winde, who immediately suspended him and set up an independent inquiry into the alleged conduct.
    You cannot Caryn say that because certain SAPS cops have been found guilty of corruption or criminality that all cops are corrupt and criminals, simply by extension.

  • Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted