Alleged disbandment of Policing Task Teams in the WC – urgent clarity needed
Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
Mixed messages on the alleged disbanding of policing cluster teams in the Western Cape are very concerning.
As part of my oversight mandate over policing in the Province, I have today written to both the Provincial and National Commissioners of Police to seek urgent clarity on the alleged disbandment of policing task teams in the province.
This comes after reports of a SMS message circulating within SAPS, instructing the disbandment of police cluster teams across the province.
I further call on the Provincial Police management in the Western Cape to reassure everyone in the province that quality policing service delivery to all in the province is still the main priority.
Unconfirmed rumours cannot be left to spark a wildfire, destroying the trust communities need to have in the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) ability to protect residents or combat crime in the province. This is especially necessary in areas worst affected by the scourge of gangs, guns and drugs.
I want to make it clear that I support Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Jula, and every law-abiding man and woman in blue who work tirelessly every day to help ensure the safety of all in the province.
I will also support any operational changes to SAPS, provided there is a long-term sustainable intention and direct improvement of policing service delivery to strengthen the fight against crime.
The safety of our communities must remain the main prerogative of any policing policy shift or operational deployment plan.
This latest rumour of the disbandment of cluster teams is the second of its kind in recent months.
In April it was reported that Operation Combat was allegedly disbanded and re-established in the space of one week.
The Western Cape Government called for an urgent briefing at the time, on the operational deployment of all policing units in the province. It was confirmed to us that Operation Combat was still in operation, as well as other crucial units, including the Tactical Response Unit, as well as Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS).
It is common knowledge that Operation Combat’s objective is to enhance the efficiency of the Detective Services and Visible Policing in gang infested areas in the Western Cape.
We have a crisis of police visibility in the province – there are simply not enough police officers. The under resourcing of police in the Western Cape is a historical problem, and I emphasised at the time of Commissioner Jula’s appointment that it simply cannot be ‘business as usual’ anymore.
The Western Cape Government will support any responsible changes to the operational deployment of policing units. But we are very concerned when rumours circulate about the disbandment of units. We are seeking urgent answers from SAPS, both on this case and the delay in rolling out Specialised Gun and Drug Units announced by the President during the debate on his State of the Nation Address.
Spokesperson for Minister Plato
Cell: 079 694 1113