The Tshwane Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD) took delivery on Wednesday of three RG-12 Nyala armoured internal security vehicles from manufacturer Denel Land Systems. The ceremony took place at TMPD headquarters in Pretoria West. (The metropolitan city of Tshwane includes Pretoria.) The Nyalas cost R2.3-million each.
Tshwane executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa highlighted in his address that the acquisition of the vehicles was part of the plan to strengthen the TMPD. This included the graduation of 2 000 new TMPD officers last year. "Whatever we do, it must show signs of excellence," he stressed. "We will be able to fight crime in all its manifestations ....in all corners of the city."
He pointed out that being the national capital made Tshwane the focus of national political and social protests, as well as local service delivery protests, that could turn violent. "That's why we need to [be able to] protect life and limb. ... When [moreover] we go and address a situation of volatility and turmoil, the first consideration is the safety of the [TMPD] officers."
Other concerns were the safety of the numerous diplomatic missions in Pretoria and substance abuse within the city. The Mayor reported that the TMPD was going to introduce a dedicated team to combat the nyaope trade within the city. (Nyaope is highly addictive and dangerous and is a cocktail, mainly of heroin and marijuana, but can include anti-retroviral drugs and other ingredients and is believed to be unique to South Africa. It is usually used in poor communities.)
"Being a Metro Police officer is not about writing fines!" he asserted. "It's about, in the first instance, making sure people do not break the law." It was about maintaining safety in the city and reassuring the populace.
Chief of the TMPD KS Nogobeni explained to Engineering News Online that, in 2013, the then Minister of Police (Nathi Mthethwa) had authorised the training of Metro Police officers to what is called Force Level 3, meaning that they would be trained to handle public disorder, including riots. Since then, 250 TMPD officers have been trained in crowd and riot control. "What it means is, if there is a riot or service delivery protest, we become the first responders." The department is now a force multiplier for the South African Police Service.
"Once we trained our officers, we started buying the protective equipment for them," he added. This included riot shields and bullet-proof vests. "With these vehicles, we are completing the cycle. We had everything we needed, except the armoured vehicles. Previously, there was no need for the Metros [city police departments] to have armoured vehicles as they were not trained to confront violent demonstrations. Now we can respond to these situations and protect the lives of the people."