25 May 2017
The DA is challenging MEC of Transport, Safety and Liaison, Alexandra Beukes, to publicize the flight log of the Northern Cape’s one and only SAPS helicopter after further allegations of non-operational flights have come to light.
These include allegations that Northern Cape Police Commissioner, Lt-Gen Risimati Shivuri, flew in the chopper to the popular Diamonds and Dorings Jazz Festival at Langleg Resort, just outside Kimberley, on the Easter Weekend.
Shivuri apparently utilized the helicopter on the grounds that he would hold a police parade at the event. The parade, however, never materialized, as Shivuri was not dressed in uniform but was dressed in civilian clothes.
Shivuri was seen being dropped off at the festival at about 10pm on Sunday night, 16th April 2017. His personal driver then picked him up from where the helicopter landed and drove him the short distance, of just a few hundred meters, to the VIP tent where he mingled.
While it cannot be confirmed that the helicopter fetched Shivuri, it can be confirmed that the chopper did return to the festival terrain at around 2am and that no incidents that necessitated the services of the chopper occurred at that time.
The DA has further established that the use of the helicopter for non-operational purposes is eating into the limited number of available flying hours, which is compromising crime prevention operations in the province.
On 6 January 2017, four suspicious men carrying hunting rifles were spotted in the vicinity of a farm in the Northern Cape that is home to rhinos. The police flying squad apparently went out and backup, in the form of the SAPS helicopter, was requested to help locate the suspected rhino poachers. It is, however, believed that due to a lack of flying hours, the chopper was not available to assist with the operation.
The DA has it on good authority that, so far this year, at least four incidences that necessitated the use of the SAPS helicopter did not receive support from the chopper for reasons including, amongst others, the lack of available flying hours.
The DA deems it unacceptable that Police Commissioner Shivuri is ferried about in the helicopter to the detriment of operational flights. For example, on 13 April 2017, Shivuri flew the short distance from the airport to the weighbridge on the N12 for an Easter roadblock. While his attendance of the roadblock was official, Shivuri could have saved valuable helicopter flying hours for emergencies and instead utilized the services of his personal driver and vehicle.
The latest allegations regarding the misuse of the SAPS helicopter come amid reports that Shivuri abused the services of the SAPS helicopter at the ANC’s Provincial Congress in Colesberg two weekends ago. Shivuri was seen sending the helicopter from the Colesberg Stadium to the Gariep Dam to fetch his jacket. He was also spotted being ferried in the helicopter from the Colesberg Stadium to the local Wimpy for breakfast.
Any law abiding government would consider it crucial to investigate such damning allegations made against such a senior police officer. Yet, the ANC is intent on sweeping this scandal under the rug without even testing the merits of the allegations. This was made clear on Tuesday, when they shot down a motion without notice during a legislature house sitting. The DA moved for the House to request MEC Beukes to investigate these irregularities as a matter of urgency.
We cannot tolerate a situation whereby high flying individuals are allowed to take the law, and expensive law enforcement resources of the under capacitated police, into their own hands. Police choppers are intended for catching criminals, not taxing top cops around.
The DA will continue to keep our eyes in the sky and monitor any further abuse of the SAPS helicopter.
We have written a letter to MEC Beukes, asking her to use her executive powers to make public the helicopter’s flight log.
We have also forwarded the new information received to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and will wait for the outcome of their investigation, as was previously requested by the DA.
DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of Transport, Safety & Liaison
082 494 6648
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387