Sapu's Xhosa complaint premature - MEC

Cape Town - Complaints over a recommendation that Cape Town police officers should speak Xhosa are premature, Western Cape community Safety MEC Dan Plato said on Wednesday.

He said he was concerned that the SA Policing Union (Sapu) was criticising the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry barely two days after it made its language recommendation.

Both provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer and Khayelitsha cluster commander Major General Johan Brand had supported the commission and its findings, he added.

"It is my hope that the police officers under their command will take their lead from their superiors."

Plato asked that Sapu allow the police to develop a strategy to implement the findings before criticising.

On Wednesday, Sapu said deploying only Xhosa-speaking police officers to Khayelitsha, Cape Town, was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

"While we acknowledge that language could be a barrier in terms of service delivery, Sapu supports the notion that the deployment of officers should never be done through race or language," the union's general secretary Oscar Skommere said.

"We have always encouraged officers as part of the larger South African society to move with times. The new South Africa opened doors for the co-existence of all racial groups as the rainbow nation of God."

Sapu was responding to recommendations in a report released by the commission on Monday.

The commissioners, former Constitutional Court Judge Kate O'Regan and Advocate Vusi Pikoli, recommended that police officers should be able to speak Xhosa.

"The commission notes that the Census 2011 makes plain that more than 90% of the residents of Khayelitsha speak isiXhosa as their mother tongue," the report stated.

"In the circumstances, the commission considers that it would be desirable for members of the SAPS [SA Police Service] who work in Khayelitsha to be able to speak isiXhosa."

The commission offered two solutions.

Language training

First, language training could be offered to police staff who needed it. Alternatively, the police service could "actively seek" to ensure new members placed in the area spoke the language.

Plato said the recommendation was not a rigid direction, but a positive finding aimed at building relations and improving communication.

"Language, as a communication tool, is an important part in ensuring effective service delivery to communities," he said.

"When it comes to policing, a language barrier can be the barrier between assisting someone in a crisis or being unable to help them; between conviction and acquittal, or between feeling safe or unsafe."

He said Xhosa was one of three official languages in the Western Cape and protected by the provincial constitution.

Dawid Brunette 2014/08/28 05:15:41 AM
It's a 90% Xhosa-speaking community. It makes perfect sense to me that they should be allowed to speak Xhosa. Why is this even an issue? If you can speak Xhosa, then speak it, but if you can't, then speak English or another official language, whichever the community member understands.
Thomas Rushby 2014/08/28 05:48:43 AM
The problem is this. When you speak any language as your mother tongue there will be things you can not translate. Also when in shock people can barely think straight let alone translate what they are saying.
Kaleidoscope 2014/08/28 06:00:42 AM
Isnt the problem that police officers don't want to work there? I doubt that language is the reason. If this is a small part of the issue, then make sure that there are always a few Xhosa speaking officers on duty to assist should the need arrise, but its not fair to everyone if shifts are determined by language.
Elizabeth Lee 2014/08/28 06:07:48 AM
I think whoever is disagreeing with this is being petty and childish. when cases aren't brought up in their mother tongue it becomes lost in translation which could affect the affect the outcome of the case. So it makes perfect sense that the cops in those areas be Xhosa speaking. grow up man...
Frankysmashcake 2014/08/28 06:41:52 AM
Such an easy language. . . .only four words. 1) sleep. . . ..dudu. .... 2) hungry. ... .lambile. 3) money. . . .mali. . 4) Kentucki. . . ikentucki. ... .. S o I do not think it is an unfair request
Joao Paulo Rodrigues 2014/08/28 06:44:20 AM
Education system failing is the root cause. Now everyone is trying to treat the symptoms of that failure.
leondavid.viljoen 2014/08/28 06:50:59 AM
What a great opportunity to learn a new language should you not be able to speak it. Just imagine a young person obtaining a matric, then a year in police college going on to a two year stint at a majority Xhosa speaking area before making a decision on how they want to use the added skills to the benefit of all. Unfortunately fear of the unknown has a tendency to take over before we even entertain the though that this is about opportunity. The same could be said for any of the languages in South Africa and even that of my mother-tongue Afrikaans
Francois Phillip van Zyl 2014/08/28 07:20:40 AM
I do approve of this... In my area then I want my 90% Afrikaans spoken. Everyone is entitled to their mother tongue
MeThinks 2014/08/28 08:03:03 AM
U can't properly serve those whom you can't even understand. For a win win, partner a non-Xhosa speaking with a Xhosa speaking person!
Shaun Matuwane 2014/08/28 08:04:35 AM
Lol...the next thing people will nolonger be hired because of their qualifications in these country but the language they speak. I say No! I mean why is the universal language there after all. No sense in implimenting such things.