Free State Receives Specialised Gang Unit, Why Not the Western Cape?
Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
Following media reports that the Free State is soon to get their own specialised gang unit, I will be asking Western Cape Police Commissioner, General Arno Lamoer, to explain to the Western Cape Cabinet and the people of this province why he is denying the Western Cape a specialised gang unit when this province has at least 13 times more drug related crimes than the Free State.
According to media reports the Free State’s newly appointed provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Thabetha Mpembe, made the announcement at a press conference on Friday that the Free State will be getting their own specialised gang unit. The latest crime statistics (2012-2013) reveal that there were 6 168 drug-related crimes in the Free State, whereas in the Western Cape there were 82 062 drug crimes for the same period – in other words, 13 times more drug-related crime occurs in the Western Cape.
The provincial police commissioner will have to explain when he appears before the Western Cape Government’s cabinet meeting next week why the Western Cape, with its out-of-control gang crisis, still does not have a gang unit.
The National Planning Commission’s National Development Plan (NDP), which was endorsed by the national Cabinet for implementation by the South African Government, recommends that specialised policing be re-introduced.
The NDP makes the following recommendations for a more effective police service: “Re-establish specialised units, staffed with highly trained and professional police officers, to respond to changing crime trends. Renew focus on strengthening the capacity and standing of detectives and specialised investigators, particularly in the fields of forensics, ballistics and crime scene investigations. These specialised units should be deployed when and where they are most needed – during peak crime periods and in high-risk areas.”
Furthermore, the Western Cape Cabinet has also identified the establishment of specialised drug and gang police units as a policing need and priority for this province. The national minister is obliged to consider these policing needs and priorities when determining national policy.
The best way to make the people of the Western Cape safe from drugs and gangs is through targeted, sustained and specialised interventions.
Specialised policing units have proven to be an effective strategy as they offer:
- Dedicated teams working solely on specific crime categories
- Specialist skills and expertise needed to investigate, detect, arrest and ensure successful convictions
- Detectives who have full knowledge of often complex legislation and what is often sophisticated organised crime, are adaptable to changing environments and modus operandi, and have the capacity to build up intelligence.
Despite this, the Western Cape police commissioner has responded to my calls for these units by repeatedly saying they are not necessary. Now we learn that in other provinces, where the gang and drug problems are less pronounced, that specialised units are being established – so why not in the Western Cape?
I will be writing to the provincial commissioner to ask when the Western Cape can expect the rollout of a specialised gang unit in this province to deal with the clearly out-of-control gang and drug crisis, and if he does not plan to provide this province with a specialised gang unit, to explain why he feels it is not needed.
With this latest development, the commissioner will have a lot of explaining to do.