SAPS’ stopping of issuing Worcester “Green Card” welcomed

Dan Plato, Western

Cape Minister of Community Safety:

I welcome the Western Cape South African Police Service’s (SAPS’) decision to stop the issuing of “Green Cards” to employees and jobseekers in Worcester.

The move to stop the issuing of the cards follows my request to Western Cape Commissioner Lieutenant General Arno Lamoer for an urgent investigation into the matter and shows that the police are serious about correcting the consequences of this controversial sector policing initiative, which I believe violates citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of movement.

However, media reports state that National Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega admitted yesterday that the police had been aware of the use of the cards for a while, which raises serious questions over why SAPS management did not act earlier to put a stop to the practice.

I will be raising these questions with Lieutenant General Lamoer and will still request a full report on the investigation by the SAPS, following his assurances this week that he has designated a senior SAPS management official to fully investigate the matter.

It is critical that all those involved in issuing these green cards are held to account. The South African Police Services Act 68 of 1995 states that Provincial Commissioners are responsible for establishing Community Policing Forums (CPFs) at police stations in their province, however the role and functioning of the CPFs is not clearly defined in the Act.

I will therefore be writing to the National Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, to request that he prioritises the update of the interim regulations pertaining to the effective functioning of CPFs which has been 14 years in the making and which will greatly assist in defining the role and powers these forums have when it comes to increasing safety in communities.

The SAPS must also ensure that similar practices do not exist in other areas in the country. Tackling crime and improving safety is everyone’s responsibility but it is critical that citizens’ constitutional rights are not violated during the process.