Community fumes as popular top cop is put back in civvies
Police minister in the dark after Mitchells Plain station commander is suspended - again
On Tuesday, Police Minister Bheki Cele visited Mitchells Plain to launch a new crimefighting initiative. Flanked by senior police officers, including national commissioner General Khehla John Sitole, Cele was unaware that the Mitchells Plain station commander had been suspended.
Brigadier Cass Goolam was in the crowd of civilians at the launch, dressed in jeans, a black jacket and a cap.
After the launch of Operation Thunder – a 90-day law-enforcement blitz to tackle gangsterism on the Cape Flats – Goolam was surrounded by residents questioning his suspension.
While Times Select has established that he had been suspended for granting an interview to a newspaper, Western Cape police commissioner Major General Khombinkosi Jula denied this.“That suspension was lifted a long time ago. The station commander is back at work ... suspensions are never permanent,” said Jula.
According to community activist Joanie Fredericks, Goolam was suspended last year after firearms disappeared from the police station.
She was among several members of the public who ran the Return of Brigadier Cass Goolam campaign. They staged several protests outside the police station and started an online petition. As a result his suspension was lifted.
Fredericks said they only heard of his new suspension recently and had already started a new campaign to bring him back.
“We won’t give up until he returns to office. With him as the station commander, crime reduced dramatically in Mitchells Plain,” she said.
According to sources in the South African Police Service, Goolam has been suspended without pay until June 26.
He became the acting station commander of Mitchells Plain in 2013 and took up the role permanently in 2015.According to the official crime statistics, there was a 13.4% decline in murder cases in the year ending March 2017. There was also a 30.8% decrease in attempted murders but an increase in sexual offences of 7.8%. The number of cases of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition declined by 37.3%.
During the launch of Operation Thunder, a resident asked Cele about Goolam being suspended for a “second time”.
While Cele did not respond, he spoke about suspensions “generally” and said it is “part of management”.
“To come here and say why is he suspended will be pre-judging and pre-empting the process of (a) disciplinary hearing,” said Cele. He referred questions to Jula, who was adamant Goolam had not been suspended for a second time.
As for the 15 firearms that disappeared from the Mitchells Plain police station, Hawks spokesperson Captain Philani Nkwalase said two had been recovered.
“One suspect has already been sentenced to an effective 10 years’ imprisonment,” said Nkwalase.