Panel of experts on Farlam Commission briefs Parliament

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A panel of experts that was appointed to help the South African Police Service (SAPS) implement the Farlam Commission of Inquiry report recommendations, says de-escalating violence should be at the heart of all public order policing operations.

Eldred De Klerk of the Africa Centre for Security and Intelligence Practice, who is also a member of the panel of experts, said this when the panel briefed the Portfolio Committee on Police for the first time ever since they were appointed by the Police Ministry to help implement the Farlam recommendations earlier this year.

He said addressing public order policing, among other areas of policing, will ensure that the events leading to the loss of lives during a labour unrest in Marikana do not happen again.

“The principles of policing for us, we have taken from consultations as experts broadly with … Amnesty International and other members who have made submissions to the Marikana Commission and also to us as the panel, and the broad principles will look at the issue of precaution.

“Police have a duty to anticipate what can happen when they decide to take the final cause of action. And in doing that, they should seek to mitigate and get to de-escalate and avoid the potential for violence.

“De-escalation should be at the centre of any crowd management or public order operation; there is no other way to do it. You engage, you step back and you make sure that you de-escalate and not escalate the situation by the actions you take,” he said.

De Klerk also said the demilitarisation of police was one area that the panel was looking at as part of its work, including the use of lethal weapons.

He also said collective bargaining was another area that needed to be looked at as it was at the core of the labour unrest.

“The panel also wants to pronounce itself with regards to Lonmin and what happened there and how they were a source of the conflict at Marikana because what happens with collective bargaining is that there seemed to be preference to work with what they call the dominant or majority union while the collective bargaining prescripts actually say everybody should be part of the process,” he said.

SAPS Transformation Task team making progress in implementing Farlam recommendations  

Lieutenant General Bonang Mgwenya, the Deputy National Commissioner: Human Resource Management, said the SA Police Service Transformation Task Team has made progress in implementing the recommendations of the Farlam Commission in a number of areas.

Addressing concerns of public order policing, which is one of the areas that was highlighted as an area of concern by the Farlam Commission, the Deputy National Commissioner said a work study was commissioned on 4 February 2013 to investigate the enhancement of the Public Order Policing capacity.

She said the commission led to a number of outcomes, including the fact that there was a need to enhance the national structure of the public order policing within the Division Operational Response Services; a need to establish public order policing mobile units; enhancing the existing public order policing units and establishing additional public order policing units, among others.

Lieutenant General Mgwenya said in terms of capacity, the Public Order Policing currently had 5 343 officers.

She said 1 258 posts were granted and filled during the 2016/17 financial year, including 580 trainees and 48 video operators, among others.

On skills development, she said, a number of training programmes were being offered to Public Order Policing unit members.

This includes crowd management for Platoon members and Platoon Commanders and a refresher course in crowd management.

She said the crowd management course was now conducted over a three-week period as opposed to the previous training that took two days.

Under Crowd management, 8 019 Platoon Members were trained during the 2016/17 financial year across all provinces. –