ANC-regime wants to end ‘too white’ waterwing

SAPS-Gauteng crime-prevention chief Phumzo Gela says there’s no racial equality in water wing…


2010-12-20 – PRETORIA, Gauteng. The provincial SAPS’ management wants to ‘disband the too-white water-patrol wing’ with about 340 years of combined diving experience.  SAPS genl. Phumzo Gela wants to disband the waterwing altogether, claiming that there is ‘no racial equality.” The police is not denying it but confusingly its spokesman also has ‘distanced himself’ from the claim.

SAPS police diver recovering an Australian diver in Boesmansgat cave the world's deepest freshwater cave  Jan102004 Picture: this highly specialised SAPS diver risked his life to retrieve the body of an Australian tourist from one of the world’s deepest fresh-water caves: the Boesmansgat in Jan 2005. The Gauteng crime-prevention chief now wants to disband the waterwing unit in his province because ‘it’s too white’.


Very dangerous jobs requiring excellent swimming- and diving skills

Thirty-four of Gauteng province’s 42 police-divers in its waterwing are ethnic-Europeans – each with ten years or more experience. The unit also has 24 another permanent-police force officers who are vessel-handlers. These all are  highly-specialised and often very dangerous jobs requiring excellent swimming- and diving skills in South Africa’s challenging environment.

Beeld journalist Jacques Steenkamp quotes a very well-placed source described only as a ‘senior member of the water-wing’. His source said Gela wants to disband the wing –but, warned the source, this has ‘nothing to do with racial equality and  much more to do with internal police politics.’

“Police-diving course candidates are called back within days by their station commanders…’

“We regularly identify police-diver candidates who have to be taught to swim within three months. The problem is however that those elected candidates are called back within days by their station commanders – something we have no control over.’

The candidates also must first qualify in a preparatory test before they can be approved for the one of four nationwide police diving-courses, he said.

  • “Most of us have longer than ten years experience as police-divers and now Gela wants to send us back to police stations because we are ‘too white’. How can he replace the whites?” In a university study of the unit undertaken in 2009, it was revealed that there were  12 active Diving Supervisors who were permanent SAPS-members and  one active diving instructor who was a police-reservist;  24 permanent SAPS members who were active divers and four reservists; and the rest were vessel-handlers.

Waterwing ‘no longer allowed to carry out public water-safety patrols in Gauteng over the holiday season:

Gela allegedly also told the waterwing’s police-divers in Johannesburg on December 6 during a meeting that they would no longer be allowed to carry out police-patrols on any of Gauteng’s many dams and rivers and will only be allowed to respond to an emergency call to a specific scene.

  • Usually the water-police is engaged in several preventative operations on dams and rivers mainly conducted to educate and help the public with water-safety.”It has always been our task to try and prevent drownings and accidents on the water. This Christmas season will be chaotic. People are going to do whatever they please irregardless of the safety of others around them.
    There will be no water-police on hand to hand out fines,.” warned Beeld’s unnamed source.

Gauteng SAPS spokesman colonel Neville Malila has however ‘distanced himself’ from the claimed comments while not denying them either. Instead he waffled some of the usual ANC-propaganda, saying :”the primary funciton of police-divers is visible policing and most of these divers are either connected to police stations or to the emergency response team as a secondary function. They only meet as a secondary function whenever the need presents itself, such as last week when they saved people from drowning during the heavy rains.’

He also added rather vaguely that ‘the water-wing will be on full alert and carry out patrols at all the identified dams and rivers in the province.’

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

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