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As a spokesperson for the South African Police Serivce, Colonel Naicker is expected to disseminate factually accurate information. But he he has conspicuously failed to do in his comments about the Glebelands violence. How on earth does SAPS expect anyone to take anything he says seriously given the disinformation he has disseminated about an extremely serious and tragic situation?

The Provincial Commissioner, SAPS KZN
The National Commissioner SAPS PRETORIA

Dear Commissioners,
P O Box 30079, MAYVILLE 4058
10 September 2015
1. I have had occasion to query supposedly factual information given to the media by SAPS spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker in the past. However, comments he made to the Mail and Guardian about Glebelands hostel in June this year are not only lacking in any factual basis but are also extremely insulting to people who are trying to reduce abnormally high levels of violence in Glebelands hostel – violence for which the eThekwini municipality and the SAPS must bear prime responsibility.

2. Firstly, when Naicker was asked by the journalist about a reported association between an alleged warlord (and hijacker/truckjacker) Bongani Hlope and a member of the SAPS, he referred to the establishment of a task team to investigate the violence, saying that “this information has not surfaced in our investigation”. The question is, why not?

2.1. Presumably, if Naicker is tasked to speak to the media about police investigations he is provided with relevant information. In my letter of 21 April 2015 addressed to the Provincial Commissioner KZN and the Cluster Commander, Umlazi SAPS, I pointed out (point 8) that “Central to what is happening in the hostel at present is Bongani Hlope, who is known to enjoy a close relationship with a man named Mdweshu, who is said to be a policeman [living in the hostel complex]...Hostel residents alleged that there are three R5 or similar security issue weapons, a number of 9mm guns, and official ammunition, on the hostel premises”, which weapons were alleged to be in the possession of Hlope and his associates. I also sent a copy of this letter to the Cluster Commander, Durban Central, with a specific request to confirm whether Mdweshu was indeed a policeman at Durban central and, if so, to check whether all gun records pertaining to guns at the station were in order. I never received a reply but it was subsequently confirmed by residents that Mdweshu is an SAPS member at Berea SAPS (which falls under Durban Central Cluster.

2.2. I consider it extremely important that, if there are reports of police issue weapons in an area wracked by violence, in which there is an association between a police member and a warlord (and where police have reportedly come under fire from such weapons themselves), that this information would have been made available to the task team.

2.3.Please advise:

2.3.1 whether this information is being followed up by the task team and, if not, why not?
2.3.2.Why Colonel Naicker had not been fully briefed about an alleged relationship between a warlord and a member of the SAPS in Glebelands, since it had been drawn to the attention of management.

3. I regard Naicker’s utterances about people working for peace in the province in a particularly serious light. These utterances were interpreted by the media as referring to Vanessa Burger and I, both of whom have been begging for constructive SAPS intervention in Glebelands since early 2014.
According to Naicker (quoted in the Mail and Guardian article) “We [presumably the SAPS] are extremely concerned that organisations desperate for funding are peddling such information to the media in desperation to get media coverage for their funding, rather than having a genuine interest in solving the problems that exist in Glebelands. This is a serious hindrance to our investigations and only serves to fuel further violence, as such individuals are aligning themselves with a certain group in the hostel.”

This is a particularly inflammatory and defamatory statement, so please provide answers to the following questions:

3.1.To whom is Naicker referring – which individuals, and which organisations?
3.2.Please explain fully the basis on which the assertion about “peddling” information for funding purposes is being made. Please substantiate this statement with factual information about who is seeking funding and for what purpose.
3.3.In which ways do requests for investigations into crimes and protection for vulnerable people (some of whom were subsequently killed despite the police having been asked to protect them), the drawing to the attention of SAPS management of allegations about links between a warlord, a policeman and police issue weapons and ammunition, and interventions to try to stop torture by police members (a crime) constitute a hindrance to police investigations, and fuel further violence?
3.4. Which “group” in the hostel is Naicker referring to? Is it the victims of criminal violence and torture by the police?

4. As a spokesperson for the SAPS Colonel Naicker is expected to disseminate factually accurate information. This he has conspicuously failed to do in his comments about the Glebelands violence which I have drawn to your attention. How on earth does SAPS management expect anyone to take anything he says seriously given the disinformation he has disseminated about an extremely serious and tragic situation?

5.Please respond fully to the questions asked under 2 and 3 above.

6.Given that Naicker’s utterances in the Mail and Guardian are interpreted as referring to Vanessa Burger (who has received death threats for her work in Glebelands) and myself, and seriously impugned our integrity, I demand that SAPS management and Colonel Naicker issue a full retraction of comments made and a public apology to Ms burger and myself.

With kind regards,
Research Fellow School of Law, University Kzn/Kzn Monitor

Cc Minister of Police
MEC Community Safety & Liaison KZN
Amnesty International Media