Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato has slammed Police Minister Bheki Cele for saying the city's law enforcement officers are operating illegally.
"Minister Cele should apologise to the people of Cape Town for his disgraceful utterances," said Plato on Thursday.
"I trust President Cyril Ramaphosa will look into Minister Cele's comments and take appropriate action regarding his attempts at obstructing the city and provincial governments' efforts in trying to bring extra policing where he, as the national minister, has failed."
Plato said Cele was incorrect in saying the officers do not have the required documentation permitting them to work and took issue with them being described as "thugs".
"This is absolute nonsense and shows the minister's complete lack of understanding of the laws of our country," said Plato who was the former community safety MEC in the Western Cape legislature.
On Tuesday, DA interim leader John Steenhuisen reiterated the party's call that policing be devolved to provincial level during the debate on Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address
On Wednesday, Cele replied by saying the City of Cape Town had not utilised the R5bn it had been handed.He said crime was caused by environmental design, and some of Cape Town's areas' environmental design was particularly bad which was why those areas have a high crime rate.
He said the City's policing structure was "outside legislative structures" as metro police officers do not have the required documentation and were "just a group of thugs who are unaccountable" and should be "put in prison with their leaders".
An outraged Plato said: "The City's law enforcement officers are appointed 100% in line with the Criminal Procedure Act and meet all the requirements set out in the notice issued by the justice minister.
"Officers receive all the necessary training, and every certificate and piece of paperwork is in place and signed off by the relevant authorities, including the [South African Police Service].
"All City staff who carry firearms are fully competent to do so and have the required legal authority."
Plato said Cele was given this information at a meeting attended by Premier Alan Winde, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Safety and Security JP Smith and executive director Richard Bosman earlier this week.
"It is a disgrace that instead of thanking the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government for diverting the budget away from other services to do Minister Cele's job such as paying for the recruitment, training and equipping of hundreds of new law enforcement officers, Minister Cele refers to them as thugs who should be put in prison."
He challenged Cele to visit Bonteheuwel, Manenberg and any other suburbs on the Cape Flats and ask them who the thugs were.
"I can guarantee him they will not be pointing fingers at our law enforcement officers who work day and night to protect our communities."
Plato praised Smith for his work, saying it was unacceptable that Cele was politicising the safety of people in the city.
"We have a good working relationship with the SAPS in this province and I will not let the disgraceful politics of the national minister jeopardise that."
He called on Cele to withdraw his comments and apologise to the law enforcement officers and communities in Cape Town who were under siege by gangsters due to Cele's "purposeful under-resourcing" of the police in the province.
Last year, Winde declared a dispute with the national police over policing resources for the province, saying that in other provinces one officer must protect 375 people on average nationally but in the Western Cape the ratio was 1:509."