Cele plans to halt Metro cop brutality

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Durban's Metro police are under fire from the KwaZulu-Natal department of safety and security.

The department's MEC, Bheki Cele, said they were scrutinising the latest "excessive use of force and brutality" by the unit's members.

Speaking during the launch of Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, Cele said as the department responsible for police and community safety in the province they were concerned about disturbing scenes that had occurred in the past weeks.

This after Durban Metro police were seen using excessive force during their clashes with hawkers in the city last Monday and Tuesday.

Some pictures were splashed in the media showing police assaulting people, including women, which reminded many of pre-democratic situations where police could kick, hit or even shoot at a defenceless and unarmed person.

The clashes culminated after the confiscation of goods belonging to illegal hawkers. This resulted in four police injuries and the arrest of 468 people.

Twenty-four hawkers were arrested on Monday and 444 the following day. On Wednesday, the Durban magistrates' courts released them on warnings. They are due to appear again on July 27.

Cele said in some instances "police overreacted".

"The problem is that Metro police are an independent entity. That is why we are looking at a legislation that would expose them to some form of training like the one the SAPS receive," said Cele.

He said the kind of training provided for the Metro police does not include lessons on how to handle masses or crowds. That is why they crack under pressure.

Meanwhile, Charles Nqakula, Minister of Safety and Security, said they were also worried about the escalating violent crimes in the country.

"Violent crime is a big problem. Criminals enter someone's house, assault and rape women and children. Plans are afoot to deploy more police around households. It may not be happening in many areas, but it is something we are doing," he said.