The National Minister of Police has agreed to several proposals by the Western Cape Government, following a meeting to address policing needs and priorities in the province. In order to alleviate increasing crime, R5 million has been availed and 1 000 newly trained police recruits are expected to be deployed to the province.
The National Minister of Police Minister Bheki Cele met with several stakeholders including Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, who spoke to VOC on Monday.
It comes on the heels of a formal intergovernmental between Cele and former community safety MEC and current Premier Alan Winde, who has long since called on the government to label the lack of police resources as a national disaster.
Winde had put pressure on Cele in April, citing the national average of police to population ratio. While one officer is assigned to protect 375 people on average nationally, one Western Cape officer is responsible for 509 civilians.
Fritz said Tuesday’s meeting with the minister had been “held in good spirit, of collaboration and co-operation”, with both party’s agreeing that “building safer communities requires immediate and priority attention”. Fritz said it was refreshing to see the different departments putting their pride aside.
“Where we all say ‘this national’, ‘this is province’ and ‘this is local government’ and we all have an aggressive attitude to each other and in the meantime, our people are just dying everywhere, the crime is escalating and the criminals are just enjoying themselves. At my point of departure, together with the Premier Alan Winde, (we committed to) really building a relationship with the National Minister so we can get some outcomes,” said Fritz.
He added that they looked at practical ways of dealing with crime, one of which was to address the entire system.
“I will host a half a day meeting in the next two weeks where we bring all Minister Cele’s chief police (and those in high positions) and we bring all our people from our side- as well as other important people like the National Prosecuting authority and some of the management of courts. Because the issue is beyond policing. It’s also about the criminal justice system as a whole.”
Frtiz explained that an example of this is that a spike in crime is experienced when many parolees are released.
“We have seen people who are dangerous and are given parole without having consulted the community of that parole. The whole process of parole we need to revisit, we need to see that the communities have a voice,” said Fritz.
Cele had committed to deploying 1000 of 5000 recruits currently receiving training in the country, to be positioned in Cape Town and “the Cape Flats specifically.”
Fritz highlighted that the money will be used to fund reservists who will help strengthen the force.
“For you and me, R5m is a lot of money but in government, R5m is really little. So with that, we want to fund some reservists, people who want to offer their time to come and assist us in fighting crime. The minister agreed to look into it.”
The MEC said they are also looking at alternative options to using police stations for certifying documents.
“That’s wasted resources. We have more than 87 000 civil servants and most of them are Commissioners of Oath. We also need to think of very creative solutions. That is a way of facilitating (certifying), so people don’t have to keep the police up and they can go to a government building.”
One of the fundamental complaints by civilians has also been that police either don’t respond quick enough or simply don’t respond at all.
“There are so many communities where people are asking the police “please just come out! Respond to our call!” But nobody is responding. So these new, trained recruits, will help us (in this way). All we are calling on is that first responder to get to people so that people have hope in the system. So that people know that when we call the police there will be a van available for them to come out.”
Fritz said the deployment of the police can be expected within a month or two.