SAPS probing Ritchie ‘travel’ permits.
RITCHIE residents will no longer need to apply for police permits to travel to Kimberley.
The management of the SAPS in the Northern Cape indicated on Wednesday that it was not aware of requirements that Ritchie residents needed permits to travel to Kimberley in order to buy essentials or seek medical attention.
According to police spokesperson Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba, the issuing of permits by police officials in Ritchie, allowing residents to travel to Kimberley, was under investigation.
“The Provincial Commissioner of the Northern Cape, Lieutenant-General Risimati Peter Shivuri, has ordered an immediate investigation into the matter as police are not supposed to issue such permits in terms of the Disaster Management Act,” said Ramatseba.
On Tuesday, several commuters from Richie were left stranded after they were forced out of their taxis by the police and the army at a roadblock on the N12 near Kalahari Lodge. Many had to walk the last stretch into town or hitch-hike.
The matter was taken up by the Ritchie Modderrivier Taxi Association (RMTA), which engaged with SAPS cluster.
A reliable source revealed that the meeting resolved that as from Wednesday Ritchie residents would no longer have to apply for permits from the police to travel to Kimberley.
According to Ramatseba, Tuesday’s roadblock on the N12 was to check vehicle compliance with the Disaster Management Act.
“Vehicles, including taxis, were checked during a roadblock held on the N12 for compliance. Vehicles that did not comply in terms of the Disaster Management Act were handled in terms of the regulations,” said Ramatseba.
Commuters, however, were angry about the lack of clarity regarding the regulations and the fact that they were ordered out of the taxis.
They further questioned the need for permits to travel to Kimberley, pointing out that they relied on shops in the city for food and essentials as there were only tuck shops in Ritchie.
Although 30km outside Kimberley, Ritchie falls within the boundaries of the Sol Plaatje Municipality and is considered a suburb of the city.
Four commuters, who were amongst those stranded on the roadside on Tuesday morning, said that they were belittled by police officers when applying for their permits to come to Kimberley.
They added that they also found it strange that they had to get out of the taxis instead of the taxis being forced to turn around and take them back to Ritchie.
“This does not make sense and it seems very personal that we were offloaded and left in the middle of nowhere. We do not even know what they want from us. It seems like they believe we are bringing the coronavirus to Kimberley,” said one of the commuters.
“I had to fetch my car from the dealership and when I told the police this, they said I should have come at 10am. I was not even aware that there was a time stipulation for the permit.
“The police in Ritchie treat people like children. They want to know why you want to come to town and then tell you that the person responsible for issuing the permits is not there.”
A couple, who were scheduled to be at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley at 8am on Tuesday, said they had produced their clinic referral letter at the roadblock but the police still made them get out of the taxi.
“My husband had an operation and has been getting treatment at the clinic. On Friday he was referred to the hospital … We went to the police station twice over the weekend and were told that permits for Kimberley would only be issued at 10am on Tuesday,” said the wife.