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Police deployed on a ‘bad formula’: analyst

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Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has called the uneven distribution of police in the Western Cape as an act of sabotage saying that the Cape has less police resources compared to other provinces in the country. This comes as the province struggles to contain incessant gang violence, which has claimed the lives of scores of residents on the Cape Flats in months. Zille claims there’s been a deliberate imbalance in the number of police officials deployed to the Cape Flats, which has set the provincial government up for failure.

However, Jean Redpath a researcher at the University of the Western Cape and consultant for the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) says that whether this is politically motivated or not is unclear. It is possible that it is simply the result of a bad formula.

“What is very clear is that poorer areas tend to have fewer police resources which does not make a lot of sense because when you think about equality you would want everybody to have the same allocation per head,” explained Redpath.

Redpath says that there is a formula which the SAPS uses to determine the distribution of policing resources.

“The formula that SAPS uses which is purely a mathematical formula. The answers that the formula gives seems to give us some perverse results. And the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) is taking to court saying yes you have this formula, but the results are producing inequality, particularly for poorer black areas,” Redpath continued.

“So what we see from the data is that poorer areas have less per 100 000 people than wealthier areas.”

“In the Western Cape there seems to be a relationship in the wrong direction with the murder rate so the more as per 100 000 people are murdered every year the police resources go down instead of going up, when you look at KwaZulu-Natal that relationship doesn’t seem to work in that direction.”

Redpath added that the most underprivileged areas in the Western Cape also have the fewest resources per head, and very high murder rates.

The areas with the lowest allocation of police per head (from the lowest)
• Harare;
• Lwandle;
• Belhar;
• Nyanga;
• Ocean View;
• Delft;
• Cloetesville;
• Kraaifontein;
• Mfuleni; and Strandfontein

The bad formula is suggested by the fact that many areas in KZN have even lower allocations than Harare (which is the lowest in the Western Cape). The Social Justice Coalition has gone to court to try to get SAPS to revise the formula they use, in line with what the Khayelitsha Commission recommended.

“Government is always faced with the decision of where to put resources and they must show that they are doing it rationally.”

Police resources are determined on a yearly basis and what can happen locally is that the provincial police commissioner can say for example that we are having a big operation in Manenberg so they can take police from Cape Town central and allocate them to Manenberg for a year or a month or whatever.

“In the Western Cape it is possible for the police commissioner to shuffle people around so it doesn’t mean that there are less police resources, but then is often very difficult to do because it is difficult to take police away from one area,” Redpath further explained.

VOC (Umarah Hartely)


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