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What would crime fighter Ian Cameron do if he were the Minister of Police? Cameron would start by fixing the top structure of the South African Police Service (SAPS): a national commissioner who understands that he is a CEO of an entity that is providing a service to 60 million clients; a skills audit of the “Top 10” to get rid of political appointments and incompetents; a polygraph process to weed out the corrupt; the recruitment of officers with integrity who can service with transparency; as well as better training, more detectives – and the return of reservists. He also gives BizNews an update on the latest developments around the recent assault by members of Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s VIP Protection Unit detail on unarmed civilians forced off the N1 highway. – Chris Steyn
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Relevant timestamps from the interview
- 00:00 – Introductions
- 00:22 – Ian Cameron gives an update on the N1 VIP Police scandal
- 08:14 – Cameron on how would fix policing in South Africa
- 11:39 – Ian Cameron provides words of hope for South Africans
Highlights from the interview
What would crime fighter Ian Cameron do if he were the Minister of Police?
Cameron says he would start by fixing the top structure of the South African Police Service (SAPS). “And the first thing that is important when you choose a national commissioner, is that the national commissioner must understand that he is like a CEO; he’s a CEO of an entity that is providing a service to 60 million clients – and those clients deserve to be treated in a certain way. So, the way that he conducts himself is the way that the cops on the ground would conduct themselves. Now, if he keeps turning a blind eye to things that go wrong around him, what do you think the cops on the ground are going to do?”
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Furthermore, says Cameron, it is “crucial” that the national commissioner’s role is not taken over by the Minister of Police. “At the moment, we’ve got Bheki Cele clearly acting as though he is the CEO of the police and we’ve got the national commissioner (General Fannie Masemola) playing lapdog, lapdog for the minister. And it really does look like that. In fact, it actually looks, sometimes to me, like the national commissioner is the, uh, butler, you know.”
Cameron’s next priority would be the SAPS “Top 10” where a “very, very good skills audit” would be needed to determine who had been appointed on merit – and who not. “Those appointed according to merit you’d obviously want to stay. If not, they need to be removed – political appointments especially…”
His next step would be a polygraph process to determine “where we need to start investigating in the senior structure” for who was involved in corruption. “And if you are flagged, you are immediately removed.”
Once the incompetent and the corrupt have been weeded out, says Cameron “we can pull in people that are skilled with the right integrity” to do this job. “And I think that word integrity is what needs to form the foundation of the police: it’s integrity with transparency, none of this closed-door, cloak-and-dagger way that we see the South African Police Service being managed now because then it just becomes another Gestapo for whoever the ruling party might be.”
His next priorities would be better training, more detectives, as well as the return of reservists. “There’s so many things we can add, but I think fixing the integrity issue on a national level and putting the right people into place…will automatically mean that a lot of it will start siphoning down to ground level.”
Cameron also gives BizNews an update on the recent assault by members of Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s VIP Protection Unit detail on unarmed civilians forced off the N1 highway. “He was definitely part of the convoy…they say…the part of the convoy that kept on going.”
Meanwhile, there have been some questionable moves on the part of the authorities that could delay justice for the victims. “So what they’ve done in the meantime is firstly…they tried to withhold the medical report from one of the victims, so we’ve managed to intercept that…Then we found out today that they have transferred some of the victims suddenly to posts far away from Pretoria and Johannesburg, which is also too much of a coincidence for me.”
Meanwhile, Action Society is in consultation with regards to the civil process that could see the victims get redress. “I think it’s crucial from our side that the cops that were involved – or the thugs that were involved – are held accountable in their personal capacity. So we are aiming for that. We don’t want it to just be another expense for the taxpayer. We want to make sure that those involved pay from their own pockets…if they can afford to. If not, it must come from their pensions. So that’s what we are aiming for. And I think we want to make an example of them: that they’re not above the law – and that we’re not second class citizens…”
As for the belated suspension of the eight members, Cameron says: “So…there’s nothing detrimental to them at all. It’s a paid holiday, you know, full benefits.”
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