Joint statement by Premier Alan Winde and Provincial Minister Albert Fritz
Yesterday, the National Ministry of Police issued a statement claiming that the Western Cape is the most resourced province in policing having the “lion’s share” of such support.
This statement is so misleading that our government has no other option than to respond and set out the facts. Failure to respond would allow the National Government to opt-out of delivering the actual policing resources which our communities still so urgently need, and which we have been demanding.
Any person who lives in the Western Cape’s crime hotspots knows all too well that there is not enough SAPS support to fight crime, despite the hard work of many officers on the ground. It is our poorest communities, mostly in the Cape Flats, which are left with inadequate police to population ratios because of a failure by the National Government to properly resource them.
This is not news to the Minister, his Ministry, or his Department, since we have been telling him for years through our constitutionally mandated Policing Needs and Priorities report.
We therefore call on the Minister of Police to do the right thing and to correct his statement. He should use this correction to instead commit to providing more policing resources to the SAPS in the Western Cape, especially to the crime hotspots in our poorest communities.
Minister Cele’s comments clearly demonstrate the importance of devolving policing powers closer to the people, so that actual needs are listened to and addressed by a capable provincial government. We stand ready to do so.
If you use a 1 to 225 police to population ratio to determine appropriate resourcing as a goal, our poorest communities are grossly under-supported by the South African Police Service.
Information from SAPS included in a parliamentary reply on 25 September 2020 made this abundantly clear. The following list is just a handful of the stations, most of which are severely impacted by violent crime too.
- Ravensmead 1:895
- Hout Bay/ Imizamo Yethu 1:804
- Grassy Park 1:800
- Harare 1:731
- Atlantis 1:715
- Nyanga 1:682
- Gugulethu 1:642
- Philippi East 1:638
- Kraaifontein 1:624
- Langa 1:575
- Elsies River 1:538
- Mfuleni 1:531
- Philippi 1:518
- Manenberg 1:489
- Khayelitsha 1:480
- Macassar 1:448
The Equality Court found in 2018 that both the allocation of police human resources and the system used by SAPS to determine this allocation unfairly discriminates against poor people on the basis of race and poverty. To date, this has not been adequately remedied.
“WC SAPS detectives have an unacceptable caseload”
The Provincial Department of Community Safety’s SAPS detective assessment report released in 2019 revealed that there was a lack of training and under-resourcing of the detective services in the Western Cape.
An assessment was conducted on the Western Cape Detective Services at the 150 police stations between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017 to assess compliance with SAPS norms and practices.
The assessment found that 48% of detectives in the Western Cape have a caseload of over 200 dockets per person, which is 333% above the 50 - 60 norm. There is presently a shortage of 548 detectives in the province, of which 142 posts remain vacant.
Of the detectives eligible for training in the Western Cape:
- 91.7% have not received training in the Specialised Detective Learning Programme;
- 88.2% have not been trained to investigate fraud;
- 57% of detective commanders have not completed the requisite training; and
- 45.8% did not complete the Basic Detective Learning Programme.
“There is insufficient training provided to SAPS leading to cases being struck off the court role”
In terms of training for domestic violence cases, a study by the Department in 2020 showed that 67% of visible policing members did not undergo the Domestic Violence Act five-day training course. It was also found that 74% of detectives at the top 20 stations for reports on domestic violence had not undergone the same training.
The result of the poor training given to detectives is that 85% of cases monitored during the Docket Archive Store assessment project by the Department of Community Safety (2020) were struck off the court roll:
- 380 dockets did not arrive at court;
- 417 investigations were incomplete;
- 37 witnesses were absent in court; and
- 41 forensic reports were unavailable.
“The Forensic Science Laboratory is failing to process DNA for criminal cases”
There is an unacceptably high backlog in the processing of DNA samples, taken from alleged criminal acts. According to a parliamentary reply, this is impacting over 36 000 sexual offices cases in the Western Cape.
In 2019, the Department of Community Safety conducted a study finding that 43.5% of the sampled stations did not have any kits to conduct buccal sampling, which is essential for DNA analysis of evidence in cases. In total, 13% of the stations had between only one and five kits available.
Some stations also reported shortages of stock for Adult Sexual Kits, Paediatric Kits and Sexual Assault Kits; which are all necessary for DNA sampling in different cases. These shortages have existed for over two years.
SAPS members and stations report challenges around collecting samples from suspects, as stations do not have designated places where samples can be taken to ensure privacy; and because the environment is not sterilised, samples are often contaminated which negatively affects the evidence to secure a conviction.
During the period 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20, the Department of Community Safety’s Court Watching Brief Unit visited a number of courts to investigate why cases are struck from the court roll. It was found that the reported a number of cases, especially murder cases, were withdrawn because of the backlog at the National Forensic Sciences Laboratory.
“SAPS stations are not being properly resourced to address crime”
The Browns Farm Satellite Police Station, which serves parts of Nyanga and Phillipi, has not had electricity for two years, which has resulted in the office operating until 5pm only as officers are unable to do their work safely.
The Department of Community Safety also conducts regular oversight visits to SAPS stations. In 2020, 38 stations were visited and it was found that many of our police stations do not have access control in place, many of them have no holding or detention cells and have to use private offices to remand detainees, there are stations without Docket Archive stores and stores to manage exhibits, and there are stations which require significant maintenance.
As cited in the 2019/20 SAPS Annual Report, SAPS also uses outdated technology to respond to emergencies. The Province has one Radio Control Centre in Maitland, and it uses the APCO 16 Analogue Trunk Radio System which was discontinued in 2009, and for which no parts have been available since 2012.
In terms of physical resources, despite the increase in population in the province, the number of police stations have remained the same in recent times. The 2020/21 PNP report explains that SAPS has reported that they plan to build two new police stations in Tafelsig and Macassar, however, the Macassar Police Station has been in the planning and design stages for more than nine years, with no reasons provided by the SAPS for the delays. This is a community deeply affected by crime and sorely requires police service delivery.
“The vehicles allocated to our police stations are not fit for purpose”
During the 2018/19 financial year, the Provincial Department of Community Safety conducted a police station census project at 150 police stations in the province. It assessed the allocation of vehicles at a station level using data from 60 stations. It was found that 59% or 940 of the 1572 vehicles allocated to the 60 stations were in poor condition. Our officers cannot perform as needed if their vehicles are unreliable.
“Minister Cele needs to stop the electioneering, and rather commit to properly resource the poorest communities of the Western Cape”
The Western Cape Government, through the Provincial Safety Plan, has already launched over 1000 LEAPS officers to support the SAPS in crime hotpots and is focussing on violence prevention through the establishment of Area Based Teams in these communities. We are doing so, using an all-of-society approach and we have a great working relationship with the Provincial Police Commissioner. We are committed to doing whatever we can to support SAPS because we cannot allow the unacceptably high levels of violence to continue in our communities.
But statements such as these, which can only be explained by last-minute electioneering, only distract from the very serious under-resourcing issues that many areas in the province face. If the Minister of Police will not acknowledge them, we can only assume he is not planning to address them. This is concerning and must be rectified through a correction.
This only makes the case for greater devolution of policing powers to the provincial government stronger. We have heard our residents needs, and we are prepared to do something about it. If Minister Cele is not, he should give us the resources to do so, and we will get the job done.