With SANDF troops finally on the ground in gang and crime hot spots on Thursday, the Western Cape government has put R5m “on the table” for the resurrection of police reservists.
In his State of the Province Address, Premier Alan Winde painted a picture of a severely stretched SAPS in the province.
He explained what the province’s own safety plans were, and have been, as the soldiers Police Minister Bheki Cele had promised were deployed on the Cape Flats.
“The reality is that many of our communities are defined by fear,” Winde told the legislature.
Various provincial officials have begged for more police, but Cele stated last week at least 60 000 more police officials were needed throughout the country to meet the basic ratio of of one police officer for every 200 people.
Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched a specialised Anti-Gang Unit, and the province’s police have been using 72-hour task force for certain operations in hot spots.
The current ratio is one officer for every 383 people in South Africa. Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz had put the province’s ratio at 1:509. This means the province has had to find other ways to curb crime and gangsterism.
Fritz said of the 151 police stations surveyed, it was discovered there was a shortage of 548 detectives.
Almost half of the detectives had a caseload of 200 or more cases, compared with the “ideal” of 50 or 60.
About 75% of detective commanders and 48% of detectives had not undergone the requisite training, and only 2% had received any kind of specialist training, according to the survey.
Seventy-one percent did not have informers, and more than half of the detectives did not have a firearm.
Winde confirmed at least 43 people had been murdered over the weekend in the province.
“Forty-three murders were recorded by our forensics services over the weekend period, despite a heavier police presence,” he said.
— SADC news (@NewsSadc) July 16, 2019
“I can assure you the gangsters have guns, many of them probably from the very police’s armoury.
“How can we be serious about fighting crime and gangs when this is the state in our current police service?
“Where is the management Mr Bheki Cele, where is the management?”
The province has had to make its own plans with a budget readjustment to accommodate this.
– The premier’s priority committee on safety was established after a recent meeting, and came up with a plan to sustain the province’s own safety initiatives;
– It put R5m “on the table” to be used for the resurrection of a reservist unit, or to help the police access the City of Cape Town’s CCTV;
– It would continue funding neighbourhood watch groups and community policing forums but insisted they hold their elections in September to confirm their mandates with the community;
– The traffic police will be transformed into fully fledged highway patrols;
– Local law enforcement will be bolstered through collaboration and intelligence-driven co-ordination;
– The above safety forces will work with the municipal police, private security sector and departments such as social development, cultural affairs, sport and economic development at provincial and national level in a “joint” effort. This appeared to be in line with Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa’s view expressed ahead of the department’s budget vote speech in Parliament on Thursday.
– R3.7m was provided last year for youth safety and religious programmes;
– 130 centres held activities during the school holidays for pupils, especially those in “hot spot” areas;
– A court “watching brief” group will ensure that criminals are effectively prosecuted;
– The provincial government has offered its own staff as commissioners of oaths to relieve the police of desk work but it has received a “cold” reception so far;
– A team of law and policing experts have met to look at the provisions of the Constitution to increase their powers to “deal a decisive blow to crime”;
– An “economic war room” and the “red tape reduction unit” will give people opportunities in the economy;
– A rewards programme is being worked on to encourage people to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Ultimately, the province was hoping that control of the police would be devolved to the province “so that we can apply our track record of excellence in managing this vital service”, said Winde.