Police resourcing allocation behind by 20 years and almost 90 000 Officers short
Having commemorated the annual National Police Day this past Friday, I am at pains to point out that there is no appetite from the National Minister of Police, Bheki Cele to address crime in the Western Cape, let alone our country. Every day, men and women in the South African Police Service (SAPS), put their lives at risk to protect the citizens of our province and our country, yet they are not afforded the required support to effectively do so.
In fact, between April 2022 – 31 December 2022, 6 SAPS officers lost their lives in the line of duty. May they continue to rest in peace and may their loved ones also find comfort.
During the 2011/2012 financial year, the ideal staffing requirement at SAPS station level across South Africa, was 157 836, but the actual total of officers were only 122 617. Fast forward to the 2021/2022 financial year, the ideal was 193 476, with an actual of only 105 935 officers. Effectively, this means that recruitment in SAPS is lagging behind by approximately 20 years and just less than 90 000 officers that should be on the ground. Not only has the requirement never been met but staffing at station level has declined to such an extent that it has become clear that the national government will and cannot address police resourcing anywhere in South Africa. The national police-to-population ratio is one officer for every 413 residents.
The granted establishment for the Western Cape is 21 367, but as at the 2020/21 financial year, this stood at 19 505. The province’s police-to-population ratio currently sits at one officer for every 378 residents. This ratio, which excludes specialised units has steadily increased since 2018, when it was 1:345. Worse still, is that the 13 priority stations have a higher ratio than that of the province. These stations as at 2021 are, Harare with a ratio of 1:879, Khayelitsha, 1:628, Samora Machel 1:778, Gugulethu, 1:773, Kraaifontein 1:721, Delft, 1:711, Philippi, 1:594, Mfuleni 1:583, Nyanga 1:559, Mitchells Plain, 1:535, Bishop Lavis, 1:535, Atlantis, 1:515 and Philippi East, 1:398. Of these stations and as at the second quarter (July – September 2022), 9 are part of the top 30 murder stations in the country.
In addition to this, a rural station such as Cloetesville in Stellenbosch, has a police-to-population ratio of 1:1 118.
This is a clear indictment on the national government and SAPS’ senior management who all sit in Pretoria far from the daily realities of too many South Africans. For officers to be more effective in their crime fighting efforts, they need to be afforded the required resources, which includes the human resource, so that there are sufficient officers to combat crime. The continued use of the Theoretical Human Resource Requirement (THRR), a formula used to determine the strength of components at a national and provincial level, to allocate officers is confirmation that nothing will change in how SAPS deploy their officers. This all, despite the Equality Court ruling in 2018 that human resource allocation in the Western Cape discriminated on the basis of race and poverty. The national government do not care about our people’s safety.
The 1 118 newly trained officers that were due to be allocated to the Western Cape by December 2022, have also not landed on our shores.
Once again, this is a clear demonstration of why devolution is immediately required. SAPS will not be managed in this lackluster and quite frankly inept manner under a competent provincial government such as ours. As we’re utilising data and evidence to deploy our Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers, which is being run in partnership with the City of Cape Town, so too will we ensure that the required SAPS officers are firstly recruited, and secondly deployed in a deliberate manner and where the need is greatest. The second quarter (July - September 2022) crime statistics show that where LEAP is deployed, murder is decreasing.
During this period, murder has decreased in the following areas when compared with statistics from the same period of the previous year:
• Mfuleni (-32.3%)
• Kraaifontein (-15.6%)
• Gugulethu (-16.2%)
• Khayelitsha (-9.4%)
• Harare (-3.6%)
• Delft (0%)
We want our residents to live without fear and in dignity.
If these matters are to be addressed, a functional and professional police service is required. These numbers are unsustainable. As the Western Cape Government, we will continue to lobby for the devolution of SAPS. We will not shy away from considering various other and alternative options that are available to us, as the status quo cannot continue.
The National Minister, Bheki Cele’s continued mismanagement of SAPS will lead us further away from fighting crime. The most basic rule of crime fighting is visibility. The consistent feedback we’re receiving from various stakeholders, which includes politicians, SAPS and other law enforcement agencies and the public at large, is that where LEAP is deployed, it is making a difference and they are visible. We can be more effective once we have the necessary resources on the ground.