Press Release: NGOs take SAPS to court over unfair discrimination in their allocation of human resources
Published by Legal Resources Centre [icon type=”icon-clock”] 31 March 2016
For Immediate Release: 31 March 2016
Today in the Equality Court (Cape Town), the Legal Resources Centre filed an application on behalf of Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and Equal Education (EE represented by Webber Wentzel), against the Minister of Police, National Police Commissioner, Western Cape Provincial Commissioner and the Minister for Community Safety, Western Cape.
In this application the SJC and EE (Applicants) argue that there is a constitutional obligation on the SAPS to provide resources in an equitable manner. Specifically, Section 9 equality of the Constitution of South Africa, read together with s 195(1)(d) of the Constitution, binds SAPS to equitably and fairly allocate resources. Section 195(1) requires SAPS to be professional, responsive to people’s needs, and promote the “efficient, economic and effective use of resources.”
However, the current SAPS allocation process is unconstitutional as noted in the founding affidavit of the SJC, where it is stated that:
“Through arbitrary systems of resource allocation, SAPS is perpetuating unfair discrimination against poor and working class communities. This impairs the dignity of members of these communities, and jeopardises their rights to life, freedom and security of the person, and to bodily integrity. Rectifying this misallocation of resources will not immediately resolve the problem of crime in these areas. But it will help. It will make it easier for policemen to prevent and investigate crime in the areas where those basic tasks are most needed.”
As such, the Applicants are seeking an order declaring the allocation of police human resources in the Western Cape and nationally as unfairly discriminatory towards Black and poor people on the basis of race and poverty. They are also asking the court to declare that Provincial Commissioners have the powers to determine the distribution of police resources between stations, within their province, including the distribution of permanent posts under the fixed establishment, not merely temporary posts
The organisations are also seeking the Court to compel the following against the Respondents:
- The Provincial Commissioner to draft a Provincial Plan for the re-allocation of resources within the Western Cape to address the most serious disparities. This provincial plan must be made available for public comment and remain under Court supervision during all stages of the re-evaluation. Once this plan is finalised, the applicants seeks the Court to pronounce on its constitutionality. If approved by the Equality Court, they request the implementation of the Provincial Plan within 6 months.
- The Minister of Police and National Police Commissioner draft a National Plan that will guide the re-evaluation of the national system that the South African Police Service uses to allocate and distribute its human resources. Furthermore, the Minister of Police and the National Police Commissioner must develop a national plan that will guide the re-evaluation, as well as submit reports to Court on progress made to implement the National Plan and allow for public scrutiny of the re-evaluation process. Following this, the organisations are seeking the Minister of Police and National Police Commissioner to develop and implement a new system for allocating and distributing police human resources to be completed within four years, with the Court supervising the evaluation process.