Cape Town – The Western Cape Police Ombudsman is probing allegations that members of the police’s Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) were abusing their powers when performing their duties, and has now called for the public to comment.
Ombudsman Johan Brand said he had received several complaints from members of various communities, as well as a complaint from Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz after his office received similar complaints against members of the AGU.
Brand’s deputy director of communications Deidré Foster said some of the complaints involved elderly residents being searched in the early hours of the morning.
“Single women and children whose homes are dishevelled and damaged in the process of a search,” said Foster.
Brand said some of those searches had taken place at the incorrect address, resulting in the undue harassment of innocent people.
“We must stress that not every member of the AGU is inefficient, however, our investigation will focus on members whose alleged behaviour has been excessive with no just cause.”
Brand said it was against that backdrop that they urged citizens to provide comments and share their experiences with their office.
“The nature of complaints related to searches of wrong addresses, harassment of innocent members of the communities, unacceptable behaviour towards especially juveniles in public spaces and abuse of power by the members of AGU,” he said.
Brand said it was important that their office acknowledged the work of the members performing duties at the AGU, as well as the meaningful impact which it should have in the province on the gang phenomenon.
However, they needed to additionally ensure that rogue individuals who did not act within the ambits of the law are dealt with.
He said the police were required to act within their code of conduct and within their mandate as prescribed in section 205(3) of the Constitution.
The Cape Argus attempted to obtain comment from police spokesperson Novela Potelwa, but she had not responded by the time of publication.
Corruption Watch researcher Melusi Ncala said during his latest research, reports from the public revealed disturbing allegations of police brutality, most evident during the early stages of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Ncala said those reports speak to the polices’ lack of humanity and consideration for the members of the public whom it served and a blatant disregard for law and order on the part of officers and officials.
Right2Know’s countering repression organiser Thami Nkosi, said it was important for the officers to identify themselves for accountability.
Public comments regarding the investigation can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; or faxed to 0214830660.