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Delay in specialized units raises WCape ire

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The Western Cape Department of Community Safety has lamented a delay in the reintroduction of specialised drug and gang units which it believes will help strengthen the fight against criminal activity on the Cape Flats. It follows a written parliamentary response by police minister, Nathi Nhleko in which he effectively ruled out the possibility of the units coming into effect during 2015/2016.

The move has sparked outrage on a regional front with Western Cape MEC for Community Safety, Dan Plato being one of the biggest advocates for the specialised units. The department believe that the units possess the proper expertise needed to investigate cases thoroughly, and make concrete arrests that will evidently lead to better conviction rates in court.

Responding to a questioned posed by the FF Plus, Nhleko stated:

“There is no intention in the Annual Performance Plan 2015/2016 to reintroduce any additional specialised units. Existing units are continuously being capacitated to enhance their capability to render an effective and efficient service.”

Ewald Botha, spokesperson for Minister Plato was perplexed by the minister’s decision to effectively backtrack on prior discussions on the matter.

“We find that to be quite contrary to what the promises have been in the last year, since the beginning of 2015 especially. In the budget speech Minister Nhleko said he heard the outcry of communities ravaged by drugs, and in the coming financial year he would be placing a strong emphasis on the need to review these units,” he said.

In March, Nhleko convened a meeting with community safety MEC’s from each of the provinces to address the reintroduction of the drug and gang units, and Botha said those discussions had garnered the support of both the national commissioner of police and all provincial heads of departments.

“This latest response has led Minister Plato to ask that premier, Helen Zille officially put the matter on the president’s coordinating council’s agenda at the next available meeting,” he noted.

No reason have as yet been given as to the reasons for the delay, but Botha said any arguments would pale in comparison to any statistics on how drug and gang related crimes have increased in recent years, particularly in the Western Cape.

He highlighted a similar specialised unit on family violence and sexual offense, which has thus far yielded much success.

“The life convictions they’ve ensured is proof that specialised units do work, and we argue that if you look at the crime statistics they are most needed and long overdue in the gang and drug warfare,” he added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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