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Gang units vital to decrease crime: Plato

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Crime is escalating in the Western Cape. That was according to provincial community safety MEC Dan Plato at a media briefing on Thursday, in response to the national crime statistics released by national police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko last week. However, when it was released the statistics were reported as being six months out of date which means that crime could have escalated in the interim.

“Where the SAPS are most under-resourced, crime is at its highest,” Plato told journalists in the Western Cape government press room.

“The SAPS management needs to intervene as a matter of urgency if we are to combat crime in the province as a united front.”

A closer examination of the crime statistics at a station level shows that crime is concentrated and is not experienced proportionally. The Western Cape saw a substantial 9.7% increase in the number of murders, from 2 904 to 3 186. The increase in murder also comes at a time when there has been a marked increase in the number of vigilante attacks in Cape Town.

10 out of 1141 police stations account for almost 10% of all reported murders in the country (and 8 out of 10 of these are within the City of Cape Town). The average murder rate for these stations is 94.9 murders per 100 000 population, almost three times higher than the national average of 33.

300 people died in Nyanga alone last year. All of these 10 stations are located within largely poor black and coloured working class communities. Research also shows that nearly all of these stations have less police officers than less populated and safer communities.

The Western Cape crime statistics have shown that drug related crime in the Western Cape accounts for 33.2% of cases nationally and murder accounts for almost a fifth of all murders in the country.

Plato said that it is now more essential than ever for specialised units including the gang and drug units, to be reintroduced to curb the scourge of gangsterism and drugs in the Western Cape.

Speaking to the media alongside Minister Plato was the head of the Department for Community Safety Gideon Morris. Premier Helen Zille was scheduled to address the briefing, but was unable to attend.

The HOD added that the department is concerned with the late issuing of the stats.

“It adds six to nine months to our ability to respond adequately to and when events are happening so we can deploy our resources if and when it is required,” Morris stated.

Plato said that the Western Cape government will not be deterred from their role in policing the province. VOC (Umarah Hartley)

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