This team follows the recommendations by the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, led by retired Judge Ian Farlam, into the matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the tragic incidents at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana, North West, where 44 people were killed between August 11 and 16 in 2012.
The police came under scrutiny after the massacre, and the Farlam commission raised serious concerns over their conduct. Nhleko told reporters at the Tshwane Police Training Academy in Pretoria the team would report directly to him.
Chaired by Reverend Vukile Mehana, the team will revise and amend all prescripts relevant to Public Order Policing (POP) and investigate the world’s best practices and measures available for use – without resorting to the use of weapons capable of automatic fire – where POP methods are inadequate.
The commission’s report adds that the recommendations by the National Planning Commission (responsible for the National Development Plan) for the demilitarisation and professionalising of the police should be implemented as a matter of priority.
Nhleko established the panel of experts, officially introduced on April 29. It will function under the guidance and chairpersonship of Police Deputy Minister Maggie Sotyu.
The mandate of the team is applicable to the National Development Plan’s vision of professionalising and demilitarising the police by reviewing the force’s department policies, national instructions, standing orders and operational standards.
The police officers’ working environment, their living conditions, career progression and dependants’ livelihood when officers either retire or die will form a huge part of the investigation.
Sotyu said police should not be up against brick walls when trying to buy a house.
“They go to the bank and don’t qualify; they also don’t qualify for RDP houses because of how much they earn,” Sotyu said.
She said they would also look into medical assistance after police officers retired, and look at their salaries and how they compared to other countries.
Sotyu said the current policies were old and unfair.
The entire process will run until 2017, but it does not mean policies will not be amended or implemented until then.
Nhleko said emphasis would be made on the wellbeing of the officers.
“What happened in Marikana at the #FeesMustFall and #AfrikaansMustFall protests was traumatic for the officers, and we need to make sure we talk to them,” Nhleko said.