Premier Zille calls on SAPS leadership to make base camps permanent
Today, Premier Helen Zille and the provincial Minister of Community Safety, Dan Plato visited the SAPS base camp in Lavender Hill.
The Lavender Hill SAPS base camp - which forms part of Operation Thunder - is one of four such initiatives, with the others based in Uitsig, Philippi East and Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain.
“I call on both the Provincial and National Police Commissioners, and the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to ensure that these base camps become a permanent feature, and not just a temporary solution. Since the launch of the operation in May this year, 1 168 suspects in Muizenberg and Steenberg, which include various high flying criminals have been arrested, who might otherwise still be on the streets,” said Premier Helen Zille.
The operation – designed to enhance policing visibility and ensure a 24/7 SAPS presence - involves the deployment of 257 Public Order Policing personnel from across the country to 9 Western Cape crime hotspots for a temporary period.
Premier Zille said: “The crime stats show that where crime is highest, police are most under-resourced. These camps ensure that the SAPS are easily and immediately accessible to the community. They should remain as permanent features, and not be withdrawn by SAPS after a limited time period.”
Premier Zille added that SAPS resources should also not be sacrificed in one community to benefit another, as this could lead to an increase in criminal activities in areas from which the resources were removed. More boots on the ground are needed, not the spreading of resources more and more thinly, said the Premier.
“It is also essential for the community to work with the police. All the information the police need for community safety lies within the community. They know where the guns are. They know where the perpetrators are. Unless everyone works together, it is impossible to stop criminality,” said Premier Zille.
Lavender Hill forms part of the Steenberg Police Station precinct, where the police-to-population-ratio is currently 1 officer to 533 residents, compared to the national average of one officer for every 369 residents.
Minister of Community Safety, Dan Plato said: “I am pleased with these base camps, as SAPS is now able to manage their deployments, ensure a rapid response, while also securing crime scenes. Most of all, it gives community members a lot more confidence to voluntarily come forward with information about criminal activity.”
“The Public Service Commissioner (PSC) has already revealed that the Western Cape has 128 understaffed police stations. By filling these posts within the 6 months’ period as recommended by the PSC, the SAPS will ensure that our communities are better protected. The base camp system should form part of this approach,” said Minister Plato.
The Western Cape Government remains a willing partner to help create safer communities across the province. Where communities have complaints about policing inefficiencies or where there is a breakdown in trust between police and communities, we urge communities to lodge complaints with the Western Cape Police Ombudsman. Safety is everyone’s responsibility but we need to work with one another, Better Together, in our united efforts against crime.