Unpacking the Western Cape’s Policing Needs and Priorities Report
“The option of pursuing an intergovernmental dispute over police resourcing in the Western Cape remains firmly on the table”
Today, I held a joint digital press conference together with the Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, to unpack the 2020/21 Policing Needs and Priorities (PNP) report.
In my opening remarks, I reflected on the important and constructive relationship that the Western Cape Government has with the Provincial Commissioner, Maj. Gen. Thembisile Patekile, and SAPS in the Western Cape. I want to commend the many hard-working officers in blue for their tireless efforts in fighting crime in our province.
The purpose of unpacking this report is not to criticise the work of these officers, who put their lives on the line every day. Instead, we are conducting our oversight function, in line with the Constitution, and focusing on how we can better support SAPS in the Western Cape by improving resource allocation.
The PNP report is conducted annually to assist the SAPS in identifying and addressing policing gaps, and in line with Section 206 of the Constitution, must be considered by the National Minister of Police when determining policing policy.
Section 206 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa states: “A member of the Cabinet must be responsible for policing and must determine national policing policy after consulting the provincial governments and taking into account the policing needs and priorities of the provinces as determined by the provincial executives.” This means that its content and recommendations must be considered. If the PNP report is ignored, the National Minister will be contravening the Constitution of the Republic.
The Western Cape Government takes this provision of the Constitution seriously as it is an important tool to ensure that the people of the Western Cape get the policing services that they need. To date, we have submitted 8 PNP reports to the National Minister of Police. Despite the significant effort that goes into formulating these reports, year after year, the National Minister of Police has not adequately addressed them.
The recent comments by the Minister of Police, to the contrary, demonstrate a very problematic view that the province has the “most resources” with the “lion’s share” of support. This is out of touch with reality. If the National Minister will not acknowledge the very serious resourcing challenges that our province faces, and which we have communicated to him in detail, it becomes increasingly clear that he has not adequately engaged with his constitutional function in line with Section 206 of the Constitution.
“The PNP report has been referred to the Provincial Parliament”
The latest PNP report has also been referred to the Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sports, where it will be fully considered. The SAPS and the City of Cape Town will also be given an opportunity for input.
Upon being tabled, the Standing Committee may conduct public hearings and give further inputs on the document. This is when residents will have an opportunity to meaningfully engage and share their safety concerns, and solutions that they think are necessary to address them.
Once this process is completed, the document will be returned to the Department to incorporate the inputs from the Standing Committee. Thereafter, it will be presented to the Provincial Cabinet. After the Provincial Cabinet has signed off on the document, it will be formally presented to the National Minister of Police to consider in line with the Constitution.
“The PNP report shares clear recommendations to address under-resourcing”
The PNP Report is an invaluable resource in understanding the constraints and needs of our police force. The 2020/21 report is no exception and highlights clear recommendations to address this, particularly as these relate to resource constraints within SAPS.
Recommendations that focus on the recruitment and appointment of additional members are premised on the fact that the number of police officers has declined both provincially and nationally, and that they are unevenly distributed throughout the Province. It is recommended that:
- The Theoretical Human Resource Requirement is amended and a new system to allocate human resources is developed. Key stakeholders should be consulted in this process. Key to this is a process that identifies those police precincts most at risk and allocates policing resources accordingly.
- That new SAPS members be recruited, trained and deployed to the Western Cape as soon as possible.
- The basic training curricula for police officials should be revised to ensure more practical training and focus on skills required by constables immediately on their deployment. Infield and on-the-job supervision should be reintroduced. Trainers should include experienced police officers.
Recommendations that focus on physical resources include:
- Vehicle fleet management needs to be improved, and delays in repairing vehicles need to be addressed. Government garages must ensure that the service standards are maintained and that vehicles are serviced within the shortest turnaround time.
- The personnel to vehicle ratio needs to be improved.
- Those police stations requiring upgrades need to be attended to and CCTV cameras and security installations must address security risks.
Recommendations that focus on police reservists include:
- The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted further on the declining number of reservists and it would appear that SAPS intend to recruit new police officials from the ranks of reservists. SAPS must start a recruitment campaign for new reservists, especially in those areas where crime is highest and police visibility is most needed.
Recommendations that focus on policing of the railway environment include:
- A strategy must be developed to ensure effective policing of the railway environment to ensure the safety of commuters and staff, as well as of railway assets and infrastructure.
Recommendations that focus on the management of sick leave include:
- Active officials need to be managed properly and be available to do their shifts when required.
- SAPS needs to address the abuse of sick leave and work towards achieving its target concerning sick leave.
Recommendations that focus on the effective deployment of SAPS members include:
- Evidence suggests that police action is most effective when it is directed at specific places, targeted at certain people (individuals or groups) and towards defined problems. The deployment of human resources should be dependent on accurate crime and demographic data down to a geographic microlevel.
- The Area Based Approach currently being implemented as part of the Western Cape Safety Plan is premised on this approach and requires ongoing collaboration from SAPS, Law Enforcement and other key safety stakeholders.
- This approach must be carefully monitored to assess its impact and it should be modified as required.
Recommendations that focus on SAPS detectives include:
- The shortfall in the number of detectives has continued and the detection rate of most serious crimes has declined. The Detective Academy, announced in 2019, needs to be established and offer training to all SAPS members involved in investigating crimes.
- Advanced and specialised detective training also needs to be made available. This must include training on how to collect DNA buccal samples.
Recommendations that focus on Integrated Case Docket Management (ICDMS) and Docket Archive Stores include:
- Detectives must be trained on the implementation of the ICDMS.
- All stations must ensure that they appoint vetted members to manage the Dockets Archive Stores.
- All stations should conduct an audit of training needs for Data Typists and detectives to utilise the ICDMS.
- All stations must ensure that they adhere to the minimum requirements of National Instruction 13 of 2017.
Recommendations that focus on backlogs in the Forensic Services laboratories include:
- Having the forensic science laboratory in the Western Cape report to the Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, rather than at the national level.
- The procurement of buccal sample kits needs to be improved and distributed to priority stations.
- SAPS must ensure that stations have the necessary infrastructure to protect the basic human rights of suspects during the sampling process.
- Training should be provided for detectives and members of the Visible Policing Components.
We look forward to the Standing Committee fully engaging with these recommendations through the upcoming process.
“We are concerned that these policing needs have not been addressed”
The Western Cape Government is deeply concerned that the policing needs identified in previous PNP reports have not been adequately addressed to date. This is detailed in the background document, which can be found here.
The continued use of the Theoretical Human Resource Requirement model, used by SAPS since 2011/12 to determine the methodology and quantification of human resources in the country as a whole still, despite the Western Cape Equality Court having already found that it distributes resources on an inequitable basis, remains another fundamental problem. The O’regan/Pikole Commission of Enquiry recognized this aspect too, yet nothing has been done so far to change this deeply flawed method of allocating resources by SAPS.
In the judgement handed down on 14 December 2018, the Equality Court found that both the allocation of police human resources as well as the system used by SAPS to determine this allocation unfairly discriminates based on race and poverty. SAPS’ has since submitted what it deems to be revised resourcing methodologies for consideration but in reality, they don’t fix the problem at all.
The Western Cape Government has submitted an affidavit in this respect, over a year ago now, in which we point out that the Integrated Resource Strategy “does not provide sufficient detail, nor is it a remedy, which addresses the problem of a discriminatory police human resource allocation practise” as was found by the Equality Court. The Department points out that the Integrated Resource only “outlines a framework for how SAPS might go about addressing the problem in very broad terms” while still placing much reliance on the very system (the THRR) that has been identified as problematic by the Equality Court.
That matter remains unresolved and the applicant (the SJC) has now turned to the Constitutional Court for final relief on this aspect.
The Western Cape Government remains committed to improving policing in the Western Cape. We want to ensure the safety of each and every resident in our province. It is unacceptable that resources are distributed unevenly and that our PNP report, which aims to address policing gaps, goes unaddressed year after year.
“The option of pursuing an intergovernmental dispute remains firmly on the table”
On 29 April 2019, I gave notice of an Intergovernmental Dispute with the National Government on their failure to address the contents PNP report, particularly as it related to policing resource constraints in the province. This followed an urgent letter to Minister Cele in October 2018 outlining the necessary measures to address crime in our province.
Following clear commitments made on addressing resourcing by the National Government, it was decided that the process would be suspended whilst negotiations continued.
We want to make clear today that this option of pursuing an intergovernmental dispute remains firmly on the table for the Western Cape Government. The latest comments by the Minister do not provide us with the confidence that the National Government is sticking to these commitments, and if anything, believes enough has been done already.
We now keenly await the findings of the Constitutional Court on this matter which will provide us with the necessary guidance on what further steps may be required.
We remain committed to using every tool at our disposal to ensure the equitable distribution of policing resources across our province so that we can ensure the safety of all our residents. Every single person, including our many brave police officers, deserve nothing less.
“The Western Cape will continue to do whatever it can to support SAPS through our Provincial Safety Plan”
We remain a committed stakeholder in supporting the SAPS in the Western Cape, and we will continue to do whatever we can to assist in the fight against crime through our Provincial Safety Plan.
- We have launched 831 Law Enforcement Advance Programme officers, who have been deployed to areas with the highest rate of murder in the Western Cape.
- An additional 233 officers are currently in training, which will bring the total deployment to the over 1000 mark.
- Area-Based teams (ABT) are also being established in 16 priority areas. These ABTs will coordinate law enforcement and other service delivery staff, with a focus on preventing violence. These areas include Bishop Lavis, Khayelitsha, Harare, Nyanga, Mitchells Plain, Delft, Kraaifontein, Mfuleni, Atlantis, Philippi and Gugulethu.
- 1005 Youth Safety Ambassadors have been recruited, selected and placed in work opportunities at schools (WCED), the SAPS, the Department of Health, municipalities, and Community Based Organisations for violence prevention interventions.
- 122 peace officers have been trained and deployed in municipalities across the province.
- 3 K9 units have been established and supported by the Western Cape Government. Between 2019 and 2021, over R24 million has been transferred to respective municipalities for this programme.
- We have also launched, through our Department of Transport and Public Works, a specialised interception unit and highway patrol to respond to high-risk events. 69 vehicles in the existing fleet have been repurposed for this crime-fighting initiative.
Useful links and resources:
- To view the livestream of the digital press conference, please visit: https://fb.me/e/1puSbojeY
- To view previous PNP reports submitted to the National Minister of Police, please visit: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/dept/community-safety/documents/reports_research/P