Joint statement on the first meeting of committee on organised crime, extortion
Earlier today, the Department of Community Safety attended the first meeting of the priority committee on organised crime and extortion, which was established by the National Minister of Police. This is a positive step towards addressing extortion which is impacting on many businesses and individuals in communities across the Cape metro region.
During the meeting it was agreed that the meeting will take place on a weekly basis. SAPS also indicated that complainants, particularly in the CBD, were reticent to come forward. We therefore encourage anyone who has been impacted by extortion or requests for protection money to report these to SAPS so that they can investigate and build a strong case that will result in the perprtrators being brought to book.
The Western Cape Government is working closely with SAPS, who are the primary custodians in fighting and preventing crime, as well as other law enforcement agencies to address this very serious matter. During our safety cabinet on Tuesday, Western Cape Police Commissioner, Yolisa Matakata outlined the steps that SAPS is taking.
We are pleased that SAPS has committed to allocate resources to investigate ongoing complaints of extortion in areas including Khayelitsha and Gugulethu, and which may be linked to deadly mass shootings. They have established a multi-sectoral committee to focus on these issues, led by Major General Andre Lincoln. They have also allocated 16 police officers to the investigation of organised crime matters. Additionally, the NPA has indicated that they are consolidating cases for future prosecution.
Minister Fritz said, “I am pleased with the outcomes of the first committee on extortion, convened by the office of the National Minister of Police. Reports have shown that gangs are targeting our community members, local businesses, ECDs, and even government officials. It is for this reason that I called on Minister Cele to urgently convene this committee and ensure it meets. Convening this meeting is a step in the right direction.”
The Western Cape Government is committed to making the province safer for its residents. In order to do this, we must build relationships across government departments, with other spheres of government, with civil society and with SAPS. We have a very good working relationship with SAPS and the provincial commissioner and the Department of Community Safety in the province works closely with Neighbourhood Watches and Community Policing Forums to ensure communities and civil society are on board with the work we are doing.
One of the key partnerships for us as a Western Cape Government is between our Departments of Community Safety and Health. Both of these departments play key roles in issues of safety, and using the Cardiff Model, they will be working closely together to share information and data that will give us a complete picture of violence in this province. Under the political leadership of Minister Fritz and Minister of Health Nomafrench Mbombo, and implemented by their Heads of Department, this approach will inform our data driven and evidence led interventions.
We are also pleased that former police ombudsman, Johan Brand has been appointed to manage the implementation of the Safety Plan, through our partnership with the Economic Development Partnership. The EDP acts as a neutral intermediary, creating a bridge between the Western Cape Government and other organisations, to ensure the buy-in and effective implementation of our safety plan.
The City of Cape Town is a key partner in our commitment to putting additional boots on the ground, through the LEAP program. The deployment of LEAP officers in five key areas is already making a positive impact. In Hanover Park, where 80 officers were re-deployed in Mid-October, LEAP officers have made 33 arrests. The majority of these are for the possession of dangerous weapons, ammunition and drugs. They have also made one arrest on a charge of rape and another on a charge of domestic violence-helping to combat the scourge of gender-based violence in communities.
Making the Western Cape safer is one of three focus areas of this government's recovery plan and we welcome all efforts by all stakeholders to ensure that we achieve this.
I also call on communities to support us in these endeavours by supporting the work of the SAPS and LEAP officers in their communities or becoming involved in activities such as Neighbourhood Watches and CPFs which are working to make their communities safer.
Anyone with information on extortion in the province, or who has been approached to pay protection fees can anonymously report this to the police, on the SAPS extortion hotline number 021 466 0011.