Many serious contact crimes cannot be solely addressed by the police and partnerships and collaborations are needed to help tackle the issue, says Sean Tait, director of the Africa Policing Civilian Oversight Forum. With recent crime statistics revealing a 14% increase in the country’s murder rate, fingers have been pointed towards the South African Police Service (SAPS) over a lack of proper and long term policing strategies.
From a Western Cape perspective, over 2000 vacant SAPS posts have as yet been filled, suggesting a shortage of staff to appropriately deal with crime in the province. Amongst the open positions is that of provincial police commissioner, with the current head in the Western Cape, Arno Lamoer suspended and arrested in May on charges of fraud and corruption.
Tait said that vacancies across SAPS need be addressed, as there were notable competency issues across the organisation. In addition there were several other issues extrapolating the current crime stats.
“If we look at some of the concerns that were raised at the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry, resource allocation is a problem. There are areas that are under resourced and the allocation systems in place at a national level I don’t think are on par with those developments,” he declared.
Commenting on the position soon to be vacated by Lamoer, chairperson of the Mitchells Plain Police Forum cluster Hanif Loonat said the legacy left behind by the provincial commissioner was not one that could be considered conducive for the population in the Western Cape, bringing little change during his tenure.
“We need to be honest that we are looking for someone that would head this most important and integral position of crime combating; a person who is a career policeman, who is honest and dedicated and who comes with experience in bringing about discipline in the police,” he said.
Loonat said the main aim of the new head would have to be the combatting of gangsterism and drugs, two of the biggest contributing factors to crime in the Western Cape.
“From the names that are being mentioned in the media, I have my doubts over them. The one that stands out for me personally is (Lieutenant-General) Simon Mpembe,” he noted.
The first job for the new police commissioner, according to Loonat, would be to bring discipline back within the police force.
“When you have a disciplined police service, you will obviously then have dedicated members who automatically become encouraged to serve their people. At the moment there is despondency, and a reluctance to serve the people,” he added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)