Speech delivered by Minister Albert Fritz at the Consular Corps Lunch
I would like to acknowledge the Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde; Minister of Economic Opportunities and Finance, David Maynier; the Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez; Consulate General of Romania, Mr Nicolae Zaharescu; Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Bene M’Poko and all members of the diplomatic corps. I always look forward to such gatherings as I feel it offers an opportunity to have a meaningful exchange of ideas, identify constructive solutions and cement productive partnerships with global representatives.
It is my pleasure to speak with you all on the Western Cape Safety Plan, but more specifically on the Boots on the Ground programme. My colleague Minister Sharna Fernandez eloquently explained that there are two ‘legs’ of the Western Cape Safety Plan. The first leg is that of additional law enforcement and the second is of violence prevention. The two are powerfully interrelated and we will not overcome crime in the province by working in silos.
The law enforcement leg is commonly referred to as the Boots on the Ground programme or the Law Enforcement Advancement Programme (LEAP). It is a joint initiative funded and implemented by both the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town. It aims to halve the murder rate in the province over the next ten years by placing additional law enforcement where and when they are needed most, in a data-led and evidence-driven approach.
The Boots on the Ground programme is already well underway. On Sunday, 9 February, we held a passing out parade for 500 learner law enforcement officers who are being deployed in three of the ten hotspot areas in the province. These areas include Site C in Khayelitsha, Delft and Hanover Park including Philippi. During the first few months of their deployment, they will be oriented and introduced to members of the community to build a sense of trust and partnership. Thereafter, they will be operationally deployed.
The deployment thus far has been well received, particularly as the South African Defense Force (SANDF) are likely to withdraw their troops this coming March. As the Western Cape Government, we look forward to deploying the next batch of 500 law enforcement officers by the end of the year. Within three years, we aim to deploy a total of 3000 law enforcement officers to all ten hotspot areas, which are predominantly located in the Cape Flats.
The purpose of deploying additional law enforcement officers is to help capacitate the South African Police Service (SAPS) by acting as force multipliers, particularly in stations located in gang and murder hotspots. By deploying additional law enforcement officers, we aim to increase the arrests of those who pose a threat to the safety of residents, tourists and businesses alike. We are working closely with the Provincial Commissioner, Yolisa Matakata, to ensure that when operational deployments take place; a close working relationship exists between SAPS and law enforcement officials.
However, it is not enough to simply pursue arrests. For that reason, the Safety Plan envisages the deployment of additional investigators who will help to reduce the case load of detectives and ensure an increase in the province’s conviction rate. We have already made headway in this regard. Two weeks ago, we held a workshop with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, organised through the Bavarian Government. During this workshop, a pledge was made by the Bavarian Police Services to provide training to detectives in SAPS. This will no doubt go a long way in helping to improve the conviction rate.
A further aspect of the Safety Plan which I would like to bring to your awareness is the aim to reduce alcohol related harms. We know that in this province, 50% of all alleged murder admissions or homicide victims have a high percentage of alcohol in their blood at the time of their death. Alcohol, therefore, plays a significant role in the spate of violence in this province and its harms must be addressed. For that reason, Premier Winde has tasked me with amending the Liquor Act to address alcohol related harms. I am glad to say that my Department is currently reviewing the Act and has mapped out a number of legislative amendments to reduce the associated harms. Ultimately, this will contribute towards reducing violence and crime in the province.
An important component of the Safety Plan is partnerships. We are working with each sphere of government to ensure the effective implementation of the Safety Plan. We are further consulting with numerous stakeholders in the public and private sector to ensure that an evidence-led and date-driven approach is employed. By doing so, we will directly reduce violent crime and make our City and Province safer for all residents, tourists and businesses alike.
I look forward to engaging with each of you on an individual level as we further unpack the Safety Plan and the importance of its partnerships.