Western Cape Community Safety MEC, Dan Plato, has responded to renewed concerns over the safety of Bonteheuwel residents, who have been witness to a string of violent gang-related shootings in the area over the past few months. Plato has insisted that police continue to be visible and operational within the area, despite a notable shortage of resources within the police.
Bonteheuwel residents have been in uproar over a perceived lack of action by government to help quell the raging violence. In August, with the assistance of the Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum (JPF), they wrote an open letter to a number of top government officials calling for urgent intervention into the situation. As a result, Plato called a meeting with residents to address their concerns, vowing to return with feedback to the memorandum handed to him. The JPF’s Suraya Salie, has accused him of failing to uphold this promise.
Having conducted similar meetings in other community across the city, Plato said it would be impossible for him to return to each and every community immediately. But he vowed the meeting would go ahead in due time.
During the gathering, Plato was handed a memorandum with a list of demands on behalf of the community. He claimed that 99% of those were related to operations within the South African Police Services (SAPS). Hence, it was important for the community to also engage with SAPS on the issue.
“At the end of the day, they need to pick up the telephone and to call the Brigadier to their meetings. Like they have called me to their meetings, I think they must do the same with SAPS,” he said.
Having held a private meeting with the JPF following the public gathering, Plato said he had highlighted the lack of resources within the police services.
“You must understand that police resources are stretched, and I went public with the message that there are not enough police officers at the stations. That is an issue that I took up with the police leadership, and they are busy addressing that,” he explained.
But according to Plato, the biggest issue was not the number of resources currently in Bonteheuwel, but rather the lack of crime intelligence operations to uncover how guns were being acquired, and who was supplying them.
“That is our biggest concern and problem. That is the reason for the ongoing shootings in many of these communities,” he said.
Despite this, he noted that there was a police station currently operational within Bonteheuwel, which was conducting regular operations to try and weed out those responsible for the high levels of violence in the area. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)