Western Cape Government Engages with Minister Mthethwa on Reinstatement of Specialised Units
The National Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, has acknowledged that drug- and gang-related crime in the Western Cape needs urgent action and that intensified South African Police Service (SAPS) operations must address the violence. However, the minister did not commit to the reinstatement of specialised SAPS drug and gang units in the Western Cape.
At a meeting last week with the minister, acting National Police Commissioner Nhlanhla Sibusiso Mkhwanazi and Provincial Police Commissioner Arno Lamoer, Premier Helen Zille and I reiterated our call for the reinstatement of specialised drug and gang units in the province.
We presented the Western Cape facts, which included:
- The province has the highest number of reported drug-related crimes in South Africa (70 588 for 2010/2011), accounting for more than half of the total number of drug-related crimes nationally.
- Gang violence is rife and has recently spread to areas not traditionally associated with gang activity.
- The province's policing needs and priorities (PNPs) will speak to the re-establishment of specialised units.
- SAPS is failing to stop gang operations in the province, and there appear to be links to gang activity from inside prisons.
Since taking office, I have been driving the agenda of specialised units on all available platforms and the matter was last month affirmed by the Cabinet of the Western Cape Government as a policing need and priority (PNP) for the Western Cape. I also tabled and discussed it at the MINMEC meeting a few weeks ago.
Minister Mthethwa conceded during our discussions that the 2006 decision to disband the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units was wrong and added that SAPS analysis led to the reintroduction of the units in 2009.
At the same meeting, Lieutenant-General Lamoer's feedback to the minister included that current strategies by SAPS to curb and stabilise drug trafficking and gang violence in the province are addressing the problems adequately.
I do not agree with this feedback and believe that a focused, specialised SAPS intervention will go a long way in tackling drug and gang violence in the Western Cape. In coming weeks, the National Minister and I will conduct visits to various "hotspots" in terms of drug- and gang-related violence on the Cape Flats.