Media Release: Bheki Cele still unresponsive to Western Cape policing needs
Minister of Community Safety, Alan Winde says it is becoming abundantly clear that local SAPS officers’ hands are tied by their Pretoria head office. This emerged after Minister Winde met with Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula yesterday, who gave feedback on our offer of funds to reignite the reservist programme, and offer to deploy Western Cape government staff to do admin duties at stations.
In both cases, General Jula noted that he was still awaiting a directive from his national counterparts. This underscores a key systemic fault in South Africa around policing.
Said Winde: “Crime happens on our streets, at our doorsteps, in our communities. It is a local issue. It is not right that the ‘big bosses’ sit in Pretoria, 1500km away from the crime scenes, behind the safety of their desks. SAPS’ decision makers are out of touch with the realities our communities face, and feel absolutely zero urgency to respond to their plight. For Minister Bheki Cele, we’re out of sight, out of mind, except for a photo opportunity every now and again”.
Although Minister Winde called once again for the sharing of quarterly crime stats to help residents to understand and account for emerging threats, these were also not supplied. This is in direct contravention of the law.
“SAPS’ Head Office is tighter than Pollsmoor when it comes to sharing information that would help our communities to stay safe. We need a police service that has a relationship with the communities it serves.
Around the world, the mandate for policing rests at a regional level, to enable that relationship and to ensure accountability. Yesterday’s meeting is just more proof of why provincial government’s should have the mandate for policing. This means fighting for a constitutional change, and that’s a fight I’m ready to have. If we had the directive over policing, we would have ensured that resources are allocated effectively and where most needed,” said Minister Winde.
As a result of inaction by SAPS in Pretoria, the Western Cape Government has offered to Lt. Gen. Jula that it will make its safety kiosks available outside police stations, so that government officials can perform Commissioner of Oath duties there.
Said Winde: “Our goal is to alleviate the administrative burden on officers so that they can do more patrols and investigate crimes. Government employees by law can perform this duty, and we stand ready to provide the space for them to do so, said Minister Winde.”
During the meeting it was reported that murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery are still plaguing the province.
Said Winde: “I once again mentioned my deep concern to the Commissioner that 85% of all police stations in the province are understaffed. The Western Cape’s average police-to-population ratio is 1:509. Residents of Cape Town have an even worse deal, with only 1 police officer for every 560 residents. This problem is further exacerbated by a current vacancy rate of 1307 SAPS officers. The national average is one officer for every 369 residents.
According to these ratios, we should have a further 4500 officers to get our fair share. Instead what we have seen is the number of officers in our province go backwards from 22 038 in 2013, to 20 969 today.”
The ANC’s recent manifesto promise that they will ‘increase police visibility in communities by increasing the number of men and women in uniform and that they will strengthen resourcing, joint planning and budgeting across the criminal justice system, including strengthening capacity in areas of investigations and prosecutions,’ is pure politicking. What I say to Minister Cele is, why not start now, by taking up our offer of funding for reservists?”
Minister Winde said: “I am pleased, as presented yesterday, that a strong focus for the police in the 2019/20 financial year will be to enhance their major offence reaction capability and improve the quality of service that they render to residents. I am cautiously optimistic that through the utilisation of mobile service centres, SAPS will be able to enhance their visibility in hotspot areas where there is a lack of manpower.
I commend Lt. Gen. Jula for the successes that the Anti-Gang Unit is achieving. We will continue to call for the reintroduction of other specialised units, so that crime can effectively be addressed.
We remain committed to eradicating crime in the Western Cape, and with the help of all residents in this province, along with dedicated local police and other structures, we can achieve a #SaferWesternCape for all communities.”