Racism in Western Cape Police Service: briefing by Western Cape Provincial Commissioner

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03 October 2001
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


3 October 2001

Chairperson: Mr M E George

Relevant documents:
Presentation document on racism in SAPS in the Western Cape
POPCRU document on racism in SAPS in the Western Cape - July 2000 (See Appendix)

The Commissioner of SAPS in the Western Cape briefed the Committee on allegations of racism in the Western Cape. He informed the Committee on his efforts in trying to address racism in SAPS but members remained unconvinced that the briefing had allayed the concerns as set out in the POPCRU document. This was exacerbated by the fact that the Commissioner's deputies and heads of departments had not attended the meeting.

Concerns were raised over the SAPS Equity Plan and its requirements that quotas for posts be filled along racial lines. The Committee agreed that both the National Commissioner and the Commissioner of SAPS, would have to address the Committee again on the issues.

South African Police Services in the Western Cape
The Western Cape Provincial Commissioner of SAPS, Mr L Max addressed allegations of Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) of racism in SAPS in the Western Cape.
The Chairperson stated that the allegations are of a serious nature and that they are broadly divided into four categories:
(i) Promotions - The Chair made a case in point of an Indian officer who was overlooked for a promotion as station commander in Grassy Park due to him not being white. An officer from the Orange Free State was appointed to the post even though the Indian had been duly qualified to fill the post and had been the acting station commander for the duration of the vacancy.
(ii) Recruitments - The allegations are that recruitments have not been made on a fair basis and bias has been shown towards certain individuals.
(iii) Disciplinary Actions - It was felt that disciplinary procedures were inadequate and that individuals guilty of racist offences were getting off without being punished.
(iv) Resources - Allegations were made that there was an inequitable distribution of resources between police stations. The Chair referred to complaints that police stations in Gugulethu and Nyanga were under resourced whereas areas like Rondebosch were over resourced.
The Chair asked Mr Max to reply to the allegations.

Commissioner Leonard Max
Mr Max acknowledged the fact that racism was prevalent in the SAPS and pointed out that it was not only limited to the Western Cape. He would firstly deal with the issue of representativity in the Western Cape before addressing the racism issue.

Mr Max stated that representativity in SAPS in the Western Cape was an issue that he had addressed when he had taken up office in 1999. The figures reflect the changes in representativity of whites against other racial groups.

He quoted the following statistics:
In senior management positions:
In 1999, 74.32% (Employment Equity: non-designated) and 25.69% (Employment Equity: designated).
In 2001, 47.09% (Employment Equity: non-designated) and 52.9% Employment Equity: designated).

For junior management positions:
In 1999, 72.35% (non-designated) and 27.65% (designated).
In 2001, 60.45% (non-designated) and 39.59% (designated).

For operational level positions:
In 1999, 62.57% (designated) and 37.4% (non-designated)
In 2001, 63.93% (designated) and 36.8% (non-designated).

Mr Max stated that their Employment Equity Plan had been approved in July 2000. All human resource practices had been aligned to be in keeping with the plan. Other measures taken to ensure representativity were regular reports on Employment Equity goals, training in human rights and diversity and the launch of a Redisitribution of Resources Programme.

Racism in the Western Cape
Mr Max emphasised that he had personally placed procedures in place for the eradication of racism. He gave orders to all members of SAPS in the Western Cape to report all incidents of racism. This has not apparently been done in the rest of South Africa.

Racism is viewed as serious misconduct and has consequently taken the discretion away from line managers in dealing with complaints on racism. Compulsory disciplinary hearings have been put in place to deal with complaints. A special high - level monitoring Committee has also been established to keep a check on the processing of complaints and to see that justice is equitably metered out. The Committee has to monthly submit reports to the Provincial and the National Commissioner.

Mr Max quoted the following figures for the period 1999 - 2001 for convictions, acquittals and pending cases: convictions: 11, 6 and 4; acquittals: 5,11and 0;pending: 1, 1 and 0.
The Commissioner noted that he had personally take steps to ensure that hearings were properly held and all requirements had been met procedurally. Previously, disciplinary hearings were conducted by station commanders themselves who had very limited knowledge of labour law and its procedural requirements. It was for this very reason that offenders often received minimal sentences if ever any were imposed.

Mr Max stated that the perception was that racism was always white on black. He observed from the complaints that he had received racism seems to coming from both blacks and whites. Incidences of racism might seem to be high in the Western Cape for the very reason that each and every case is required to be reported. The figures in other provinces might seem low due to the lack of reported cases. It was evident that old ideas and perceptions in the SAPS would have to change in order that true transformation to take place. Commissioner Max admitted that he is a strong disciplinarian and felt that ill discipline in SAPS was the root cause of racism. An attitude of zero tolerance should be adhered to.

The Commissioner proceeded to briefly elaborate on the four points raised by the Chairperson. Mr Max referred to the issue of promotions and stated that SAPS policy dictates the way in which promotions are done. Specific quotas along racial lines are to be met for the filling of vacant posts. The vacancy at the Grassy Park station for a station commander had to be filled by a white, which is why the Indian was overlooked for the post. Commissioner Max observed that much of the problems associated with recruitments stem from grass roots level. He stated that because of South Africa's diverse cultures, persons recruited are often placed in areas that are foreign to them. Communication becomes a problem and this impacts on service delivery. The Commissioner had expressed his views on discipline above.

Mr Max expressed surprise at the Chair's allegations on the inequitable deployment of resources to various police stations. According to statistics at his disposal 26 and 11 personnel over resource the police stations at Khayalitsha and Gugulethu respectively. On the contrary police stations in predominantly white areas have been understaffed. Sea point police station only has four officers whereas those in Camps Bay and Hout Bay only have two each.

The Commissioner concluded by stating that he was aware that problems exist but he wished the Committee to be aware that he is trying his utmost to address them.

Adv A Gaum (NNP) asked if each province has to have an equity plan.
Given the requirements of the equity plan and SAPS policy on appointments, have targets in the filling of vacancies been met in the Western Cape?

Commissioner Max stated provinces should have equity plans. He pointed out that targets have been met in the filling of vacancies. For example five African males are required to fill director's posts but eight have already been appointed. No Indians were supposed to be appointed to director's posts but one has already been appointed.

Adv P Swart (DP) referred to the figures quoted on convictions, acquittals and trials pending. Are they a true reflection of the amounts of complaints that are made or do they only reflect those cases that go to trial. How does SAPS communicate to the public that justice has been served?

Commissioner Max stated that correspondence is sent out to complainants. He also pointed out that he regularly addresses members of SAPS outlining his plans and to create greater awareness of issues.

Mr P Zondo (ANC) stated that the allegations made by POPCRU are serious. What has been done since the allegations came to light?

Commissioner Max reacted that SAPS have invited POPCRU to work with them in dealing with the allegations. He stated that he has not received any response from POPCRU as yet. Commissioner Max noted that it would be in SAPS best interest to work with POPCRU since they represent SAPS members.

Mr M Booi(ANC) noted that POPCRU has raised issues on representativity. He stated that he still did not get a sense of what is being done by the Commissioner to address specific issues such as the Grassy Park incident

Commissioner Max stated that unfortunately as provincial commissioner he does not enjoy total autonomy. Like everybody else in SAPS there is a chain of command that he has to follow. He is subject to directives from the National Commissioner. Commissioner Max pointed out that he could not change the Employment Equity Plan to suit his own needs. However true this may be, the Committee was assured that work was continually being done to address issues.

Ms A Van Wyk (UDM) asked what the allocated staff complement in the Western Cape is? What has been filled and how many posts are vacant?
What is the Commissioner's ideal figure for the staff complement in the Western Cape?

Commissioner Max stated that the allocated staff complement for the Western Cape is 14908 members. He did however point out that only 11756 posts have been filled.
It was pointed out that the ideal staff complement for the Western Cape would be 21723 members.

Ms Van Wyk asked of the 14908 members, how many are uniformed officers?

Commissioner Max gave the Committee the following breakdown:
• 7256 are uniformed
• 2294 detectives
• 283 intelligence
• 1923 civilians

The Chair asked why the posts had not been filled? He asked what the National Commissioner's reasons were for not deploying members to the Western Cape to fill vacancies.

Commissioner Max stated that the Western Cape is one of the most understaffed provinces in South Africa. There simply are not enough persons in the Western Cape to fill the posts. It was explained to the Committee that the allocation of SAPS members to a province is done in proportion to the number of people that are populating the province. Another reason given was the obvious one, financial constraints.

Mr M Mbolekwa, Secretary to POPCRU in the Western Cape stated that the Commissioner was missing the point. POPCRU had wanted the Commissioner to address those specific issues as outlined in their document. He was disappointed with the general nature with which the Commissioner had addressed the issue of racism.

The Chairperson, Mr George agreed that the Committee had also hoped that the Commissioner would have dealt with the specific issues as outlined in the POPCRU document.

The Commissioner did not respond.

Adv Swart asked if understaffed stations are equally distributed or are they concentrated in one area.

The question remained unanswered.

Mr O Kgauwe (ANC) asked the following questions:
(i) Why has the white person who was appointed to the post in Grassy Park not filled his post? Why is he still in the Orange Free State and why did the Indian acting station head not fill the post?
(ii) Are the presiding officers at conduct hearings under your direct control? What actions do you take if they do not perform?
(iii) What type of relationship do you have with your deputy commissioners? Do they give report backs?

(i) The Commissioner stated that the issue in the Grassy Park incident was not about a promotion but about redeployment of personnel.
(iii) Commissioner Max stated that he does delegate obligations to his deputies. He added that they are accountable to him.

Adv Gaum asked the following questions:
(i) It seems that there are more highly ranked officers in the SAPS than there is constables are grass roots level. Is this correct?
(ii) How many SAPS members often qualify for promotions but do not get promoted because the categories they fall into quotas has been filled? Does this affect morale of members in the Western Cape?
(iii) How do you intend dealing with over representativity of certain racial groups in the SAPS in the Western Cape?

Mrs J Sosibo (ANC) asked the following questions:
(i) How is the person who was supposed to fill the post in Grassy Park getting paid? Is he being paid for a post that he has not filled? What salary is the acting station head in Grassy Park being paid?
(ii) How many of the cases cited in the POPCRU document have been addressed?
(iii) Why are the deputy commissioners and heads of departments not present? Are the issues not important enough?

(iii) The Commissioner apologised for the absence of his deputies and stated that they had to take care of SAPS business whilst he was in Parliament.

Mr Romeo de Lange (POPCRU) stated that the statistics that the Commissioner has submitted does not reflect the cases of racism that are reflected in their document.
He presented some of POPCRU'S statistics.
Of the cases that POPCRU has referred to 66% of white perpetrators have been found not guilty whereas only 19% of blacks have been found not guilty.
Mr de Lange noted that disciplinary procedures are still very much in the hands of whites. A further concern was the delays in the SAPS in dealing with disciplinary procedures.
He cautioned about the growth of a new type of modern racism, which he terms, Neo - racism. He pointed out that each time a black person is appointed in senior positions in the SAPS, it is interesting to observe that junior whites apply for transfers.
He asked why does the Commissioner approve the transfers?

Commissioner Max stated that he only allows transfers if there is merit in them.

The Chair was disappointed by the fact that the SAPS and the trade unions had not been co-operating on issues. Mr George strongly urged the Commissioner to engage with trade unions. He felt that the Commissioner had not sufficiently prepared for the meeting. The basis on which the meeting was called was that the allegations by POPCRU were not specifically dealt with. Mr George felt it disconcerting that the deputy commissioners and heads of departments of SAPS had not attended the meeting or had not deemed it important enough to attend.
The Chair asked if the SAPS Equity Plan would stand the test of its constitutionality.

The Commissioner was hesitant to give an answer.

Mr Max conceded that he had not addressed the issues in the POPCRU document but welcomed interaction with POPCRU to address them.

Many of the questions remained unanswered.

The Chair suggested that both the National Commissioner and Commissioner Max would once again address the committee to get clarity on issues.

The committee agreed.

The meeting was adjourned.


POPCRU is dedicated to the establishment of a police service free of all discrimination, racial bias, sexism, repression or any other forms of discrimination and to an establishment of an impartial and effective service. POPCRU is committed to the implementation of the White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery (Batho Pele) which focus on the redirection and improvement of services especially to the previously disadvantaged. However, the Police Service can only be successful in improving service delivery once the racial imbalances of the past have been addressed.

POPCRU Western Cape decided to embark on an Anti-Racism Campaign to highlight the many injustices our people still experience and the failure of Police Management to react harshly to racial behaviour and by not regarding it as a serious offence. We are still having a police management who is not prepared to accept the political and socio-economic changes. The ignorant behaviour of police management to respond soundly to racism negatively affects the morale of police members to do policing effectively.

The behaviour of racism is considered as a serious misconduct in terms of the SAPS
Disciplinary Regulation as promulgated in Government Gazette No 17682 of 27 December 1996. However, the way police management respond/ed to racism is evident that they do not regard it as a serious misconduct.

SAPS management in the Western Cape has no will to fight racism because they themselves are guilty of it. Racism is still rife in the SAPS.

2.1.Capt (f) Anine be Beer (former spokesperson for Operation Good-Hope and current spokesperson for SAPS Eastern Metropole) in May 1999 refer to coloured people as 'fucking hotnot who wants to take over everything' - Belville CAS 406/05/99.

At the reporting stage of the incident, police management failed to immediately institute the necessary investigation and disciplinary procedures. It took police management more than two months to make a decision as to whether they should institute disciplinary procedures against the said officer.

The accused paid an admission of guilt fine of R500, 00 in respect of the criminal charge. An internal police hearing followed in terms of the SAPS disciplinary regulations, at the end of which she was found not guilty. The basis of her defence at the internal enquiry)' was that at the time of the utterance she was psychologically stressed. She was defended by a psychologist (as recommended by SAPS). SAPS failed to negate the defence. See attached Annexure A - POPCR U's complaint to the

2.2.On 2000/04/10, Supt P Heydenrych (SAPS Management Services - West Metropole) referred to a black officer, "you blacks want to take over and I will ensure that you are not promoted". Bellville CAS 477/04/00. The SAPS Legal Services (representing the suspect) held meetings with the Provincial Public Prosecutor, Mr Frank Khan where it was decided to withdraw the criminal charges against the said member. The victim, Captain Halom was never consulted.

On 2000/07/03 Police Management held a bilateral meeting with POPCRU (representing the victim) and SAPS Legal Services (representing the suspect) in order to withdraw the disciplinary charges against Supt Heydenrych. The SAPS Disciplinary Presiding Officer, Supt Rossouw is not prepared to continue with the charges against Supt Heydenrych, for reasons unknown to POPCRU. POPCRU disagreed with the reaction of management, because it is clearly' defending the interest of the suspect who admitted that he uttered the racist slur.

POPCRUJ also received complaints from one of the witnesses, Captain (f) Louw, that the investigating officer intimidated her with leading questions when he was taking her statement. To date no statement has been taken from the victim and never approached or visited by the investigating officer.

2.3. On 1999/08/13, Sr Supt WS Herbert (Detective Head Kuilsriver SAPS) refers to a coloured officer as "jou hotnot ek slaan jou kop van jou lyf af". Kuilsriver CAS 667/08/1999. It is now more than ten months, police management is still hesitating to continue with the disciplinary hearing. The case was also reported to the ICD. The ICD has not yet started to investigate the case. It is POPCRU's view that this is part of management's strategy to prolong the case for more than twelve months, so that they can have justification for the withdrawal of the charges.
See attached Annexure B.

2.4. Somerset West SAPS:
A white sergeant said, "hotnots and kaffirs should be thrown into the sea". The said officer was fined R300.00 and transferred to Gordons Bay SAPS. Shortly after his transferred, he was promoted to the rank of inspector.

Another sergeant who called a fellow officer a 'MaIawi -se kaffir', was later promoted to a special task team of the SAPS.

A white inspector referred to another white colleague to 'stop trying to score points with the hotnotte'. Department action was taken but nothing was done at station level.

On 2000/06/22 a Sgt Knipe and Sgt Nortje of the Dog Unit arrested two teenage black youth and threw them amongst the dogs and they were brutally assaulted and injured. Somerset West Cas 337/06/00. To date police management has not yet reacted against the said members. See attached Annexure C.

2.5. Worcester SAPS:
Capt (f) C.H Breitenbach made racist remarks against reservist at Worcester. The said officer is temporarily suspended pending the outcome of the departmental hearing. After the complainant (Mr Hemanus) registered the case he was victimised by the local police management and his application to enrol as a police member was cancelled

A white female Inspector Bosman (detective unit) let a black woman wait until the next morning when she reported that she was raped. She is departmentally charged and the first hearing will take place in July 2000.

A white Constable Van der Walt (working at the Detective Unit) refers to black people as 'you kaffirs'. No disciplinary steps were taken against this member. In 1995 the same member was found guilty of sexually assaulting members of the public. The said member is still working at the Detective Unit.

Sergeant Myazy (the only black detective at Worcester) is currently on stress leave. White colleagues are constantly making racist remarks and victimising the member. There are currently departmental investigations against eleven white members.

On 2000/06/25, a black woman (Mrs Darries) was hijacked in Hilbrow and dropped in Cape Town where she was repetitively raped. She reported the incident at Worcester SAPS and a white female sergeant on duty refused to take the charges. The victim was forced to report the incident to another shift on duty. Worcester SAPS VB I 0096, indicates that the social worker reported that the victim was victimised. See attached Annexure J.

Residents of Rawsonville (a predominantly black community) launched a number of racial complaints against white members. The community is unsatisfied with the manner in which Police Management responded to their complaints. According to the local community leader, Mr Macdonald, it is clear that the local police do not want to represent the interest of black people and that they will never receive good services from the police. See attached Annexure K (17 cases of racism reported to the police).). The following depicts some of the cases reported:

· In May 2000, Monica Malan resident of Rawsonville, reported an assault case against a farmer. When she reported the case to Sergeant Stein, he responded, 'jy is die hond wat die baas gebyt het.' At the time of the assault the said victim was pregnant and nearly lost her baby. To date, police management has done nothing about it.
· ln February 1999, David Kiewiers a resident of Rawsonville was brutally assaulted by a police member and as a result he was medically declared unfit. Police management failed to respond appropriately to this matter.

2.6. On 2000/02/22, Inspector A Groenewald (Commuter Unit, Cape Town) uttered the racist slur that he shall " al die kaffirs uit die mag sal pak". To date police management failed to investigate and institute disciplinary procedures against the said member.

At the same unit, a white officer was using a stamp on official police documents, which refers to a white tiger (intentionally discriminating against blacks). The matter was reported to Police management and nothing was done up to now.

2.7. In March 2000, Inspector (f) AJ Kellerman (Belville SAPS) referred to black members of Transkei SAPS as 'kaffertjies is mal'. Disciplinary action was taken against said member and the first hearing will take place on 2000/07/25.

2.8. In August 1999, white police members allowed a black citizen to die in prison. (Plettenberg Bay). At the time of the arrest the man was stabbed with a knife and bled to death in prison. At the stage of public out cry, police management remained silent.

On I8/08/1999 two white police officials of the Dog Unit Paarl arrested Anthony Hendricks (a citizen of Paarl for washing cars. They threw him between two dogs that were in the car. They took him to Du Toit's Kloof where they brutally assaulted him. They pointed a gun at him threatening to shoot him. Paarl Case 589/8/99.

On 10/08/1999, a white police official set Andre Petersen (a citizen of Paarl) alight in Paarl.

On 5/09/I999 Joseph Louw (a citizen of Paarl) was assaulted, bodily injured and put in Paarl SAPS prison without any medical treatment.

On 2/07/1999, a senior police officer (Sakkie Kitshoff) refers to POPCRU members as, 'julle hotnots en kaffers wil net maak wat julle wil, maar hier maak ek soos ek wil. The incident was also reported to the lCD. No steps were taken against the said officer.

Police management failed to appropriately respond to the aforementioned incidents in Paarl. Their silence to these sensitive issues leaves a lot to be desired. See attached Annexure D.

2.10. In January 1998 a pamphlet with racist comments pointing at black people was distributed at Public Order Policing (POPS- Faure). Police management failed (after it was brought to their attention) to respond to this pamphlet. See attached Annexure E.

A status report re diversity training in SAPS Western Cape (dated 22/11/1999). The following issues were highlighted in the report:
· Transformation not being looked at in the SAPS and there is a lot of resistance to change.
· The lack of understanding by white managers and cops of unconscious and institutional racism.
· Top police management who tends to lose their vision because their attention is mostly focused on firefighting.
· There are not enough structures to support the program.
· The program is mostly designed to benefit white participants but it is difficult to deal with the internalised oppression of black staff in front of white people.
· Many of those in key positions in SAPS feel unsafe to make changes. Some of the senior staff have learnt to speak the right language but do not really support transformation. Some key senior members are former Special Branch members who may have been put in post in order to sabotage change in SAPS.
· Most of the support within the SAPS comes from the former MK members who seem to be the major visionaries within the police.
· The Police Management has ignored countless reports; doors have been closed against us.

See attached Annexure F

Attached Annexure G depicts that white members still hold the majority senior positions in the SAPS. The table also depicts that since 1994 more whites than blacks have been appointed to senior positions (from superintendents up till Commissioner).

When one compares the economically active population of the Western Cape (According to Statistics South Africa) to the racial distribution, it is also evident that whites are proportionally over-represented especially in the management positions.




% Race


373 924



885 835



15 696



351 489



1 626 6944


Information at our disposal indicates that white members are still unfairly promoted to the expense of black members.

Attached Annexure H depicts white members being promoted to higher ranks, jumping between minimum one rank to maximum three ranks.

Black members with both undergraduate and post-graduate degrees (in the field of


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