National Response to Western Cape’s SANDF Request a Step in the Right Direction
We welcome the response by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to Premier Helen Zille’s announcement that South African National Defence Force intervention will be placed on the provincial Cabinet Agenda.
Minister Mbalula has responded by requesting the Defence Minister and the Presidency to deploy SANDF resources to intervene in the fight against gang-related activity.
Premier Zille said: “While we have enjoyed a good working relationship with SAPS at provincial level, much needs to be done to boost police resources and bolster crime fighting efforts. The fact is half of all murders occur in just 7% of Western Cape precincts – the same areas where police resources are lacking. This under-resourcing crisis remains the domain of Minister Mbalula and national SAPS, where the control and operational mandate over policing lies.”
If approved, the deployment of the SANDF would provide short-term stabilisation in areas with high gang activity. While this will assist the SAPS in high-risk areas, it would not be a permanent solution.
This means the Minster cannot simply absolve himself and the SAPS from their constitutional mandate. There remains the need for a permanent solution to deal with violent crime in the Western Cape.
“We reiterate our calls for Minister Mbalula to immediately reinstate the specialised gang units – which were disbanded several years ago, with no explanation. This would serve as a permanent force in gang-ridden areas. How much longer should communities wait for this given President Zuma’s promise in early 2016 to reinstate the units?” said Premier Zille.
Premier Zille added: “It is unfathomable that SAPS plan to cut 3000 police officers from the Western Cape at a time when police to population ratios are soaring well above the national average. The use of police reservists has also been close to 0% over the last three years in the Western Cape. This is due to the current reservist recruitment policy by SAPS.”
Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Dan Plato said: “We also urge the National Minister of Police to prioritise the capacitation of the SAPS through adequate personnel deployment, recruitment and training – which is in direct contradiction to the planned culling of 3 000 police jobs. Communities in the Western Cape will not be appeased by more empty promises. The national police leadership need to address the systemic problems in what is essentially their responsibility and mandate.”