Saturday, May 18, 2024

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Active police work and politics do not mix, warns KZN police commissioner

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Police officers who want to be politicians must surrender their “blue uniform of authority and wear a coloured T-shirt of their choice.”

Addressing 3000 commissioned officers in Durban on Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said police officers must never align themselves with politics.

“We are a few weeks away from 29 May 2024, the Election Day in the Republic of South Africa. With that in mind, we took the opportunity to address police officers about the expectations from the people of this province and the country at large. As police officers we have a mandate to create a safe and secure environment for the inhabitants of this country.”

“We have to deliver on that mandate even during the election period. Police officers must be apolitical and neutral at all times. Police officers must and will treat all political parties equally and without favouritism,” he said.

As police officers, we serve South Africans through the government of the day. If the political landscape changes after the 29 May, there will still be the South African Police Service, and police officers will serve in that administration as if nothing has changed.

Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi

Mkhwanazi said police officers cannot campaign for any political party, or be seen to be an active member of any political party.

“The participation of police officers in the politics of the country is when they go to cast their votes for their preferred political party or independent candidates.”

“Just like all South Africans, police officers do have the right to vote, but other than that, their responsibility remains that of ensuring that whoever wants to go and vote do so in a safe and secure environment.”

He said officers are duty-bound to prevent, combat and investigate crime and not participate in active politics.

“Police officers who want to be politicians are more than welcomed to surrender the blue uniform of authority and wear a coloured t-shirt of their choice. You just cannot be a police officer and a politician at the same time. One of those interests must fall.”

“We have had incidents during the local government elections where some police officers were found to have campaigned to become councillors whilst still in the employ of the South African Police Service.”

“That oversight will never happen again and should it happen, proportional disciplinary steps will be taken expeditiously,” said Mkhwanazi.

He said the SAPS in KwaZulu-Natal was ready to police in the electioneering period.

“Our operational plans at all levels are already in motion and so far the province is stable.  We are not going to talk definite numbers of deployment for operational reasons, but over 17000 police officers in the province, with the personnel capacitation from the national head office will be on the ground maintaining law and order, peace and stability.”

“We have policed elections in the past and we are prepared to execute our responsibilities during the 2024 elections.”

“KwaZulu-Natal seems to be a fertile hunting ground for political parties and we would like to assure residents of KwaZulu-Natal that police are out there to create peace of mind for them.”

“Our plea is for politicians to ensure that intra and inter-political differences do not escalate to the commission of crimes such as murders and other violent crimes. We have seen enough bloodshed due to intolerance in the political sphere,” said Mkhwanazi.

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