Specialised Drug and Gang Units Endorsed by Cabinet as Policing Need and Priority
Media Statement by Dan Plato, Minister of Community Safety
The reinstatement of specialised drug and gang units by the South African Police Service (SAPS) has now been affirmed by the Cabinet of the Western Cape Government as a policing need and priority for the Western Cape.
Cabinet's confirmation at its meeting last week means the national Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, is obliged to take into account these needs. I will also on Thursday this week be tabling the re-establishment of the specialised units at the MINMEC meeting.
The Constitution of the Republic provides, under Section 206, that national policing policy must be determined after consulting provincial governments and "taking into account the policing needs and priorities of these provinces". The Constitution also states, under the same provision, that "national policing policy may make provision for different policies in respect of different provinces after taking into account the policing needs and priorities of these provinces as determined by the provincial executives".
It is undeniable that the Western Cape has been particularly hard hit by drugs and gang activity. This province has the highest number of drug-related crimes in South Africa. 70 588 drug-related crimes were reported in 2010/2011, which means this province accounts for more than half of the total number of these crimes nationally. The 2010/2011 statistics also show that the Western Cape had more than double the amount of reported drug crimes compared to the second highest province.
At the same time, gang violence is rife in the Western Cape and has recently spread to areas not traditionally associated with gang activity. Serious interventions are needed to drastically reduce drug- and gang-related crime.
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.
- Specialised units are adaptable to changing environments and modus operandi and have the capacity to build up intelligence.
Many of the communities I have visited that are plagued by gang violence and drug-fuelled crimes have all cried out for the re-establishment of specialised units. The Western Cape Cabinet echoes this sentiment. I will now be writing to Minister Mthethwa to inform him that specialised units have been identified as a formal policing need and priority for the Western Cape for him to take into account as contemplated by the Constitution.