Specialised Units or yet another fly-by-night gimmick?
Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
There are serious questions surrounding Police Minister Bheki Cele’s latest promise of an apparent new Anti-Gang Unit to be launched on the Cape Flats on 1 November 2018.
While any additional resources are welcomed to help address the high levels of crime - specifically violent interpersonal crime – we have to be assured that this unit is not another fly-by-night gimmick.
Clarity is required on the following questions:
Will this unit be operationalised by robbing police personnel from one part of the province to deploy to another?
How effective could 95 officers be in tackling the scale of the gangs, guns and drugs problem?
Do these 95 officers form part of the temporary deployment of an additional 257 saps officers under Operation Thunder, or are they new deployments? Media reports indicate that the Anti-Gang unit of 95 officers are already operating on the ground.
What has become of the 2016 State of the Nation promise to re-introduce fully-fledged Gang, Gun and Drug Specialised Units? Are these 95 officers all we can expect in this regard?
The crime stats show that up to 83% of all gang-related murders in South Africa took place in the Western Cape.
Despite this trend, the Western Cape has been historically understaffed and under resourced.
This is evident in the available statistics from the SAPS’ Annual Reports:
The Provincial SAPS Annual Report for 2012/13 indicated total SAPS personnel in the province to be 21 056. The latest national SAPS Annual Report for 2017/18 indicates that as of 1 April 2018, SAPS only had 20 006 personnel in the province.
The Annual Report also shows that only 162 reservists were recruited by the SAPS in the Western Cape during 2017/18 – on average only 1 reservist per station in the province. The Western Cape places 5th on the number of reservists recruited with KwaZulu-Natal managing to recruit 548, Gauteng 317, Limpopo 260 and Eastern Cape 248.
Performance has also decreased according to the annual report with intelligence driven crime prevention operations down from 15 836 in 2016/17 to 15 585 in 2017/18 nationally. Of the 15 585 conducted nationally, only 1 732 were conducted in the Western Cape, placing the province’s crime prevention operation 5th highest, compared to Mpumalanga (2 767), Gauteng (2 717), KwaZulu-Natal (2714), and Limpopo (1 898).
Other key performance indicators also see a regression in the province. While the Gauteng SAPS has seen actual response times of more than 1min30s below their targeted response times, the Western Cape SAPS has seen on average responses to complaints take longer than targeted response times. Seconds can save lives.
The people of the Western Cape deserve safety and policing service delivery that they can rely on. We need to see the entrenched, sophisticated gang and drug structures being tackled with competent, intelligence-driven crime prevention and combatting methods.
The residents in our communities cannot be appeased any more by resource scraps which do not stop the bullets flying or replenish. We can no longer accept the deterioration of policing resources in the province, instability in SAPS national management, short-lived Police Ministers or corrupt Provincial Commissioners.
The Western Cape Government supports the good work done by the Provincial Commissioner under tough circumstances. The same goes for every dedicated SAPS official in the province.
Tomorrow the Western Cape Cabinet will hold a press conference to outline the details of our submission to Police Minister Bheki Cele on SAPS resourcing in the province.
Ewald Botha, Spokesperson for Minister Plato
Mobile number: 079 694 1113