Today, the Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, welcomes the training of another 250 LEAP Officers, which starts today.
It is envisaged that the officers will be ready for deployment to enhance visible policing in crime hotspots on the Cape Flats in mid-December, in time for the summer holidays. This, amidst arguments for greater provincial policing powers from the Western Cape Government.
Over the next few weeks, LEAP Officers will receive training in how to use a handgun; how to stop and approach; radio procedure; how to use a tonfa, and; how to use pepper spray. Officers also receive training in how to open a docket and take a statement, on the National Road Traffic Act, as well as the powers and duties of LEAP Officers.
To date, 721 law enforcement officers and 110 LEAP Commanders have already been deployed. The additional 250 officers will bring the total number of officers deployed to 1081. LEAP Officers work to increase visible policing in the identified crime hotspots in the Metro.
Last week, LEAP Officers conducted 7078 person-searches, 345 house-searches, and 879 vehicle-searches in the hotspots. LEAP Officers also conducted 104 autonomous operations, and 100 joint operations with SAPS. The operations led, amongst others, to the confiscation of 60 full mandrax tablets, 76 half-tablets; 66 packets and 14 parcels of dagga; 96 packets of tik; 96 units and 18 straws of of heroin; and other narcotics. The confiscations of dangerous weapons included 1 panga and 2 swords, as wells as knives, illegal guns and ammunition.
Minister Fritz said, “over a seven-day period, we are searching more than a thousand suspicious people in our crime hotspots every day; we are searching more than 100 vehicles every day. During the presentation of the latest quarterly crime statistics a few weeks ago, the National Commissioner spoke about the importance of visible policing in fighting crime. And that is exactly what our LEAP Officers are doing. Their work rate is really impressive. And with the addition of 250 more officers, this work rate will only increase and intensify.”
The Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, said: “When we launched the Western Cape Safety Plan on 19 September 2019, we did so with the aim of making our communities safer through a combination of violence prevention and law enforcement initiatives. It is only fitting that as we approach the second anniversary of this launch that we have begun training the third cohort of LEAP officers, to be deployed in our crime hotspots by the end of the year. I commend the City and Provincial Government on their joint partnership, which has made the LEAP programme possible, and which has made our most vulnerable communities feel safer.”
News of the training for new LEAP officers comes on the back of calls from Minister Fritz for greater policing responsibility to be devolved to provinces. At present, policing policy is centralized in the National Minister of Police, with provinces limited to playing oversight.
Minister Fritz continued, “the Western Cape Government wants more policing responsibility, so that we can make policy that speaks to the needs of our province, and support the Western Cape SAPS to a far greater extent than we are currently doing. The Constitution makes provision for greater involvement by the provinces, beyond just an oversight role. We can’t afford to be mere spectators ticking boxes. Our citizens need us to be more involved!”
Minister Fritz concluded, “the current centralized approach to policing is not working, as evidenced by the SAPS’s owns statistics; and as the Provincial Government, we want to get more involved. We received no resource allocation for LEAP, but we’ve nevertheless managed to train and deploy more than 1000 officers. We have laid the foundation with our Provincial Safety Plan, and we are ready to take it to the next level now. Why stop us? Our citizens need us to realise that the fight against crime is one fight that cannot be superseded by a ANC versus DA contestation. Our citizens need us to work together on this.”