Policing priorities

Reagen Allen, chairman of standing committee on community safety in the provincial legislature

I’m glad that Police Minister Bheki Cele has at last agreed to join me on oversight visits in the Western Cape.

I’m going to use this opportunity to show him the reality on the ground, so that he can see for himself exactly what our communities need in terms of safety resources from SAPS.

Although Minister Cele made a remark that the Western Cape receives the largest resource allocation, this is completely false.

For example, in Mitchell’s Plain, we had 498 SAPS members in 2020, which dropped to 473, which means we have one officer for over 500 residents.

It is even worse in areas like Grassy Park and Harare, where we only have one police officer for more than 1 000 residents.

Our detectives are also struggling with case loads that exceed more than six times what the United Nations recommends.

And if Minister Cele looks at his own budget, he would see that there are four other provinces ahead of us in terms of police resource allocations.

But it is not too late to fix this problem.

We can get safety on track in the Western Cape, which is why I also look forward to showing Minister Cele the excellent work the City of Cape Town and the provincial government does in its supplementary resources to SAPS.

This proves that we need greater policing responsibilities devolved to the provincial and local government level.

Lirandzu Themba, Police Ministry spokesperson responds:

The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces have recorded some of the highest crime figures and continue to receive the most policing resources and funding to bring about peace and stability in the provinces.

Police Minister General Bheki Cele says the South African Police Service (SAPS) has to date, injected the most resources to the two provinces, compared to all other provinces countrywide.

This statement comes as Minister Cele, the Police Ministry and police management engaged the community, addressed their demands and policing concerns at an imbizo hosted in Rocklands on Friday October 8.

Many community members used the platform to discuss and engage the police on the identified crimes such as child murders, kidnapping, gender based violence, gangsterism and drug abuse.

Minister Cele assured community members that their calls are not falling on deaf ears and availing resources and more officers to better police this township and all areas of the Western Cape are ongoing.

“We will never win this war if we don’t partner with communities, especially in this province, when we fail to work hand in glove as the provincial and national structures together with community structures, we will then fail the community,” he said

The minister has conceded that more still must be done to squeeze out criminality in Mitchell’s Plain, but emphasises that the Western Cape enjoys the lion’s share of policing resources aimed at addressing crime concerns raised by communities.

“Out of all the provinces, the province of the Western Cape is the most resourced over and above the allocated provincial budget. We have through our analysis of crime trends took decisions to set-up special operations such as the Anti-Gang Unit(AGU), there has also been the introduction of Special operations like Operation Thunder and Operation Lockdown and a task teams investigating extortion and taxi violence. Many of these interventions are unique to this province and are producing results, communities can agree that life may not be perfect but it’s certainly improving since they were established.”- concluded Mr Cele.

The Police Ministry has noted that during the course of this year, 200 extra police officers have been redeployed from various provinces and directed to the Western Cape, to assist policing in the province.

Since 2018, over 350 million rand has also been utilised by the police on special operations in the Western Cape province.