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Statement by MEC Plato - Avian Park: Deployment of additional resources welcomed

15 August 2017

Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety

Avian Park: Deployment of additional resources welcomed

Date: 15 August 2017

Release: Immediate

I welcome the national Police Ministry’s announcement of additional policing resources for Avian Park in Worcester, as a response to the recent increase in gang and drug related activities.

This announcement also serves an acknowledgment that current policing management and resource allocation in the Western Cape requires a rethink and serious intervention from a national level.

Gun-violence and gangsterism, fuelled by drug turf wars, has tormented the Avian Park community for too long.

The Department of Community Safety has been actively involved in forming community based safety structures such as Neighbourhood Watches, Community Policing Forums and Walking Busses in Avian Park, with local police and municipal role-players.

Deputy Minister Bongani Mkongi’s commitment to immediately increase police resources – made during a visit to Avian Park yesterday - is a necessary and long overdue step in rooting out the violence.

While increasing policing activities in Worcester is of great importance, we wish to make it clear that this should not be achieved by diminishing the policing resources of neighbouring towns or clusters.

The Western Cape has historically been under-resourced, with up to 85% of stations understaffed and a shortage of some 3000 police personnel.

Every community in the Western Cape deserves the peace of mind that the dedicated men and women in blue serving them every day are fully equipped and adequately trained to do their job effectively.

The problems associated with gangsters, druglords and gun-runners require the specialised attention of the gun and drug units. The return of these units was announced by President Zuma in his 2016 State of the Nation address, but no action has been taken since. National Police management’s silence in this regard is a slap in the face of communities who live in fear on a daily basis.

Futhermore, I believe the current reservist policy and enrolment criteria is too onerous to sufficiently address the void which currently exists.

The number of active police reservists has sharply declined in the Western Cape – by 66% since 2008, from 5059 (2008) to a mere 1700 (2015). Active reservists report for duty on a month-to-month basis.

No police reservists were recruited between 2013/14 and 2015/16. Only 1 reservist was re-recruited during 2015/16.

Furthermore, in 2008 a total of 22 159 reservists were called up for duty, with pay. This decreased to zero by 2015/16.

Given the apparent manpower shortages, reservists play an important role in assisting the police and serving as a force multiplier.

I have already proposed that the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, relook at the criteria and prescriptions to capacitate a failing system in order for it to work optimally.

The Western Cape Government supports the efforts of the hardworking men and women in blue in the province under the leadership of Lt Gen Jula. We offer assistance to the police through our oversight mandate and by helping to create safer environments for all in the province.

We need dedicated and well-resourced specialised units which can deliver conviction ready court cases. Criminals need to be taken off our streets, this is the only way to win the war against guns and drugs.

Media Enquiries: 

Ewald Botha, Spokesperson for Minister Plato

Cell: 079 694 1113