100 Days as Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety
- Pushing our mandate to the limit
- Fighting gun crime – R5 000 reward
- Crime fighter recognition awards
- Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) successes
- Watching Briefs – alerting Minister Cele to systemic failures of police
- K9 Units successes
- Police station oversight visits
- Neighbourhood watch patrols
- R10 000 payments to support functioning of accredited Neighbourhood Watches
- Devolution of police services
It has been just over 100 days since I took office as Provincial Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety. This time has been marked by building our own capacity to fight crime, conducting oversight visits at various SAPS stations, to strengthen SAPS’ hand in the fight against crime, patrolling with Neighbourhood Watches and a number of safety stakeholders and making a clarion call for a new national police minister, as what we currently have, has been failing dismally.
As safety is a core pillar of the entire Western Cape Government (WCG), in the first 100 days in office, I committed to the following, in order to create safer communities across the Western Cape:
- Visit 30 police stations
- Join 30 Neighbourhood Watch walkabouts
- Participate in a number of Joint Crime Prevention Operations conducted by reaction units supported by the Department, inclusive of the K9 units and LEAP Programme
- Strengthen the already established relationship with the SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant- General Thembisile Patekile and station commanders in the province
- Engage various safety partners and political parties to ascertain how best we can collaboratively combat crime and violence.
For each of these, I am happy to report that not only have they been achieved, but in some instances also exceeded.
Instead of patrolling with 30 NHW’s, it’s been done with 40. Here I’d like to thank the NHW’s CPF, SAPS, Metro Police, Law Enforcement, private security companies and various others for embarking on these walks with us. Amongst others, and in Metro areas, there were various patrols in Salt River, Observatory, Woodstock, Victoria Park, Lorencia Park, Helderzicht, Figrove, Macassar, (Greater Somerset West), Leonsdale, Avonwood, Salbrau, Norwood, Ruyterwacht, Matroosfontein, (Greater Elsiesriver), Tafelsig, Hyde Park, Beach Craft Block (Mitchells Plain), Heideveld, Watchful Eye, Brothers for Justice, Cathkin, WBF, Allison Court Watch, Duinefontein, Silverstream, Letaba (Heideveld and Manenberg), Bridgetown, Silvertown, Belgravia, Crawford, (all Athlone) and Sizisukhanyo (Khayelitsha).
In non-Metro areas, we walked with the NHW’s from Bosmanadama, Voordorp and Hillrest, all from Wellington, Extension 13 and Albert Luthuli from Mossel Bay, Vredenburg on the West Coast and Calitzdorp in Kannaland. I commit to continue patrolling with more safety stakeholders, as it’s clear on the ground that when there is visibility, criminals tend to shy away from being spotted.
I am however concerned that there are various areas where NHW’s have either been depleted or they no longer exist. Klawer in the Matzikama municipal area, Calitzdorp and Ladismith in the Kannaland municipal area, are places, to name but a few where NHW’s have been depleted. Officials in the Department are in the process of addressing the matter.
I’d like to acknowledge the Klipfontein Mission Station NHW once again for the role they played in keeping Ms Shireen Essop safe when she was found after her disappearance. We handed over a certificate of commendation to the NHW and we’re in the process of accrediting them.
SAPS Station Visit
I conducted oversight visits at 30 SAPS stations. To name a few in the Metro, they include Muizenberg, Athlone, Atlantis, Parow, Diep River, Ravensmead, Table View, Langa, Gordon’s Bay and Grassy Park. Outside of the Metro, we were at Grabouw, Klawer, Vredendal, Vanrhynsdorp, Clanwilliam, Citrusdal, De Rust, Dysselsdorp, Bridgton, Oudtshoorn, Bongolethu, Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Tulbagh, Vredenburg, Saldanha Bay and Langebaan. At one station, the building is literally sinking into the ground. Another station has not had a generator for the last three months. Holding cells are not functional and in one area, prisoners have to be transported to another station to be accommodated. I’ve already written to the National Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille to enquire how these and many other infrastructure challenges will be addressed. I’m still awaiting feedback.
There’s a common thread at all stations and that is the chronic under-resourcing. One station reported that their fixed establishment should be 54 detectives. This was reduced to 36, but at the moment they only have 11. At another station, the vacancy rate is 24% and in some areas that are gang ridden, it hovers around 18%.
Looking at the police to population ratios for the 13 priority stations and the precincts recording the highest number of murders in 2020, it is apparent that all the police stations have a high ratio. The top 5 murder precincts record some of the highest police to population ratios: Khayelitsha, 628; Delft, 711, Nyanga, 559; Kraaifontein, 721; and Harare, 879. These ratios highlight the necessity of revising the Theoretical Human Resource Requirement (THRR), which is not new news, to ensure that stations with the highest levels of series crimes are adequately resourced.
They’ve expressed their frustration around the procurement process to have a van or vehicle fixed or just not having enough vehicles. Maintenance, some staff who are not motivated, along with many other issues were highlighted.
These have been communicated to the Provincial Commissioner, and well will continue to engage him on this front. It should be stated that SAPS finds itself in this position due to the National Government’s failure to effectively manage SAPS.
Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) Officers
These officers, who stems from the Western Cape Safety Plan (WCSP) are deployed where they can make the biggest difference in turning around negative crime statistics, including in our top 10 murder areas in the Western Cape. This includes Delft, Gugulethu, Harare, Khayelitsha (Site B policing precinct), Kraaifontein, Mfuleni, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Philippi East, and Samora Machel. Other high crime areas in which they are deployed are Atlantis, Bishop Lavis and Hanover Park, and recently Lavender Hill, Steenberg and Grassy Park.
Between April 2022 and June 2022, these officers helped ensure that 1 491 persons could be arrested.
I’ve been on patrol with the LEAP officers in Mitchells Plain, where they inspected liquor outlets to ensure they’re compliant, as well as during their deployment in the Steenberg, Lavender Hill area. They are a site to behold and is truly making a bold statement in the areas where they’ve been deployed.
It should be noted that these placements are strategic and backed by evidence and data. For a number of years, Nyanga’s been known as the murder capital of South Africa. In fact, between the 2010/11 financial year, up to 2018/19, Nyanga topped the list where the most murders occurred in the country. Backed by this data and evidence, the first LEAP deployment in 2020, became a priority for this area.
At the end of June, I had the privilege of joining the Swartland K9 unit and during this operation the officers saw two taxis initially stopping some distance away from the VCP point before making a sharp U-turn. Suspecting something sinister, the officers gave chase in the SAPS vans and escorted the vehicles back to the VCP. The K9’s with their sharp noses then sprang into action. Their excellent sense of smell helped uncover the illicit items, which led to the arrest of an adult male for dealing in dagga.
- The Swartland unit made 98 arrests, of which 46 were drug related between 1 April 2022 and 30 June 2022
- They conducted 11 roadblocks and searched 482 persons and 745 vehicles.
The Overstrand K-9 Unit, whom I’m still to visit made 138 arrests during the same period.
All these units, which we have established as the Western Cape Government is proving to be quite effective in their efforts to combat crime. I’ve committed to these units that we will continue to support them, as they’re demonstrating their effectiveness in the areas where they’re operating.
Reward for reporting stolen firearm
I’m pleased to inform you that we have reintroduced the reward system for the reporting of an illegal firearm. You would recall that this initiative was started by current Premier Alan Winde in 2019, but regrettably was not reignited when he moved from this portfolio to become the Premier. It’s now officially back and we want residents to help us by reporting where these illegal firearms are. All they have to do is dial 021 466 0011, which is a SAPS number. Upon the successful confiscation and confirmation that it’s indeed an illegal firearm, a reward of R 5 000 will be paid to the person who reported it. This person’s name will not be publicised in any way.
We need to get these illegal firearms off our streets, as they are the primary cause of murders in our province.
Over the coming weeks we will start putting up posters in various public spaces to ensure the greater public is made aware of this offer. We also call on you as the media to assist us creating awareness around this offer.
Crime fighter of the month recognition award
I’m happy to also inform the public that as of the end of September we will commence with a process of announcing a monthly crime fighter. This individual will receive an award for their significant contribution to creating a safer environment. All the details are being fleshed out and in due course we will make further announcements as to how this process will unfold and what it will entail.
We believe in a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach and this is another manner where we want to award the public for helping us in the fight against
Engagement with Western Cape SAPS Commissioner
To date, I’ve had two formal monthly engagements with Lt Gen Thembisile Patekile. We’ve agreed to strengthen the open-door policy that already exists, to be as transparent with each other as possible, while not seeking to undermine the roles that we have to play.
This is proving to be quite effective, as for the first time, a provincial Minister and SAPS Commissioner presented the provincial crime stats together.
Even though the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, is spending a lot of his time in the Western Cape, this is pretense at its best. The National Minister has and continues to fail the people of the Western Cape, and this is why our call for devolution is clear.
LEAP and the K-9 Units are showing what the potential of a SAPS is should it be run by a capable Government such as ourselves.
Although he constantly mentions resources and allocations, it has become abundantly clear that the Minister of Police, has no plan to address the shortage of police resources in the Western Cape.
I refuse to play Minister Cele’s political game with crime. Too many people are dying due to invisible policing, as they either do not have the manpower or resources to patrol our communities.
Through LEAP, the K-9, NHW’s, CPF’s and other partnerships and structures, the Western Cape is stepping up where National continues to fail.
Our Watching Brief programme, which is part of our oversight role, continues to highlight systemic failures in policing. You saw the statistics for the 1st quarter of the current financial year, where 198 cases serving before court were withdrawn as a result of inefficiencies by the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Categories of inefficiencies: Quarter 1 (April -June 2022)
This is yet another reason why I am calling for the devolution of the police service in South Africa. All other countries with functioning democracies have regionalised police services that are highly effective, because their superiors have in-depth knowledge of the local conditions and how resources should be allocated.
I also attended the graduation of 190 males from Chrysalis Academy. The gentlemen were part of the 22 ALPHA course, which ran from 1 May 2022 until the end of July. Students came from various communities across the province, including Retreat, Lavender Hill, Khayelitsha, Philippi, Atlantis, Delft, Mossel Bay, Plettenberg Bay, the West Coast and many others. I am immensely proud of their accomplishment, as they demonstrated commitment and persevered. They now have a responsibility to pay it forward and assist other young people in their various communities
- Continue playing our Constitutionally mandated oversight role over SAPS
- Continue to strengthen the relationship with the office of the Provincial SAPS Commissioner
- Continue supporting and develop NHW’s, CPF’s and accredited safety stakeholders.
- Engaging local and international stakeholders and partners to improve the fight against crime in the province.
We still have a long way to go to making this the safest province in the country. Noting the failures of the national government in addressing crime, I believe that a devolved police service and an active community safety volunteer structure are our best tools to make a difference.