After some perceived a lack of community participation at a crime summit organised in July earlier this year, a follow-up summit was arranged this past Saturday. The initial summit hosted several prominent figures and a multitude of stakeholders, including Police Minister Bheki Cele and CPF representatives, and was held in response to the escalating crime crisis in the Western Cape. Nearly 700 community members from precincts across the province gathered in Paarl for the second summit, providing ideas to help police stabilise gang-infested communities. Community members are calling for holistic action.
At the first summit, several resolutions were made and Minister Cele has since been calling for the resolutions to be implemented.
The second summit saw many key topics and interrelated concerns being discussed, including the links between policing, crime and socioeconomic issues.
“The purpose of the summit was to get community input – the first summit we had in July was [consisting of] mainly officials and CPF members,” said community activist and lead coordinator of the second crime summit, Henriette Abrahams.
“The key points we went into were: what is failing and what is missing in the police force, how we enhance [the police force] and how we as a community and SAPS (South African Police Services) can work together to bring down violent crime.”
Abrahams says that crucial questions in the discussion were around how to get the criminal justice system “to work better” and the role socioeconomic issues play in the social ills plaguing communities.
She says that all relevant government departments need to implement the resolutions reached at crime summits and do their part.
“To bring down crime you can’t just look at policing. You have to look at housing, overcrowding, the function of families, trauma, education, skills and so forth.”
Meanwhile, chairperson of the Manenberg CPF, Kader Jacobs is grateful that the SANDF’s deployment has been extended.
Yesterday it was announced by the Presidency of South Africa that President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended the term of the SANDF’s presence in the Cape Flats by an additional six months, until 31 March 2020.
However, while Jacobs is pleased with the announcement, he feels that the role the army has played thus far has been disappointingly reactive and lacking in strategic consultation.
“We are happy that the term of the SANDF has been extended by another six months. However, there have been a lot of claims of success,” he said before insinuating that any action taken could be regarded as success due to the sheer extent of crime in gang-infested communities.
“We believe a more effective operation could have been had, had there been consultation with community leaders in terms of how the deployment should have happened…We don’t see the operation between the SANDF and SAPS as being totally effective – we believe it could’ve been a lot more successful had they done some consultation.”
Despite Jacob’s complaints of a lack of consultation, he added that his community has witnessed some change.
According to Jacobs, what remains a point of concern is the lack of an intelligence driven and preventative approach by both SAPS as well as the SANDF. He is also calling for the resolutions of the first crime summit to be implemented by all the relevant departments.
“One would’ve thought a more preventative approach would have been applicable, where intelligence would’ve picked up that something was about to happen and before it does, it gets nipped in the bud. That, unfortunately, hasn’t happened,” said Jacobs.
“As far as the last summit on 14 July this year, one of the major resolutions was that there should be an interdisciplinary approach between Home Affairs, Correctional Services, Social Services, Sports and Recreation and all the other government departments, getting together and formalising a strategy that could be integrated into these violent communities.
We haven’t seen that come up or even seen a plan on how that is going to be implemented.”