Minister Albert Fritz: SOPA Debate Speech
Honourable Premier and Cabinet Colleagues,
Honourable Leader of the Opposition,
Honourable Members of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament,
Community of Genadendal,
Special Guests, NGOs and community leaders,
Citizens of the Western Cape,
I wish to dedicate this speech to all in the province who have been affected by crime. Let this be my report back to Auntie Sarie from Atlantis, Andile from Gugulethu, Mr Arendse from Rocklands, Bertha from Bellrail and Ann Ntebe from Thornton.
Speaker, today I want to highlight how this DA-led Government is leading from the front. As Premier Winde highlighted in his State of Province Address yesterday, we are working hard to make the province safer for all who live in it and leading an all of government effort to reduce violence.
I want each of you to know that as the Western Cape Government, we care deeply about your safety and are taking the lead in making the Province safer for all.
As a caring and action-driven Government, we are moving forward with the smart intervention of amending the Western Cape Liquor Act in terms of its:
- Trading hours and trading days;
- The minimum unit pricing model;
- Under-age drinking; and
- Differentiated liquor licenses to alleviate pressures on smaller establishments.
While the stringent lockdown regulations assisted in limiting alcohol related harms, they cannot be a permanent solution as they have devastating consequences on our economy and promote the illicit sale of alcohol. I look forward to the completion of these amendments this year, subject to the public participation process.
The Department of Community Safety will further facilitate the appointment of additional junior liquor inspectors at the Western Cape Liquor Authority. They will ensure that license holders comply with their licensing conditions and that alcohol harms are mitigated.
Speaker, as of October 2020, our Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers have consistently been deployed to five crime hotspots, namely, Delft, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Bishop Lavis, and Philippi (with a focus on Hanover Park).
Between 1 February to 7 February 2021 alone, our LEAP officers conducted:
- 3560 persons searches;
- 87 house searches;
- 21 vehicle check points (VCPs);
- 11 shebeen closures and 70 follow up visits;
- 393 fines and notices issued; and
- 88 autonomous, integrated, and joint operations with SAPS.
In addition, 71 arrests were made for possession and dealing of drugs, possession of dangerous weapons, imitation firearms and illegal ammunition, and domestic violence.
I am proud of the cooperative way the Department of Community Safety, SAPS in the Western Cape and the City of Cape Town are working together to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable communities. We are seeing results and I want to thank the Provincial Commissioner Lt. Gen. Mokgabudi for her leadership.
I am pleased to say that since the redeployment of our LEAP officers, many residents have started to feel safer. Neighbourhood Watch Chairperson, Shireen Hendricks, has reported that the deployment in Hanover Park has made morning and afternoon commuters feel safer. Our officers are apprehending those responsible for robberies and returning stolen goods. She says it is a pleasure to work with LEAP.
Going forward, we will be deploying an additional 500 LEAP officers.
Speaker, the Area Based Teams (ABT) approach is integrating law enforcement and violence prevention interventions in 16 communities across the Province. An ABT approach brings together key government departments, Community Police Forums, Neighbourhood Watches, Faith Based Organisations and others in a focused effort to fight crime.
We are taking a business unusual approach to implementing our ABTs and are undergoing a comprehensive realignment to ensure that we utilize our limited resources well. We have not hesitated to cease programmes with little impact in a move towards more productive and results-driven initiatives.
We are creating programmes which will go beyond attendance registers and budget requisite forms. Our new relationship with community organisations will be built around mutual relationships of delivery and impact.
We are in the process of recruiting and selecting 1000 young people between the ages of 18-35 years, as violence prevention facilitators. They will be placed at local authorities, schools, and host communities across the Province. Once all the ABTs are assembled, safety ambassadors will form part of wholistic interventions which focus on reducing youth violence and murder in their communities.
They will also benefit from a comprehensive training programme which will enable them to learn valuable skills and improve their job prospects. They will contribute towards greater levels of community cohesion and resilience by being positive role models for other young people.
We are on track to launch the Youth Safety Ambassador Programme on 1 April 2021. As I speak my Department are hard at work putting together all the elements of this programme.
We will be rolling out the deployment of Peace Officers to rural communities, ensuring that our initiatives are not simply limited to the Metros. These peace officers will be incorporated into the Safety Ambassador programme.
Yesterday, Premier Winde announced that to further boost our crime fighting capacity across the Western Cape, 120 peace officers have been recruited and trained from six rural municipalities.
In total, 13 Rural Municipalities have already been supported with the SAQA accredited Peace Officer training, with 288 Peace Officers completing the training over the last 3 years. Further training will commence in three municipalities from 22 February for 60 trainees.
By the end of March 2021, 348 rural peace officers will have received training. By 1 April 2021, 466 young people will be available to be appointed as peace officers or safety ambassadors from the 24 rural local municipalities.
As a provincial government, we aim to ensure the safety of all our residents, including farmers and farm workers. As such, we have created capacity in the Department to assist in the implementation of the rural safety plan. Going forward, my Department will be meeting with the Department of Agriculture. This will ensure the rollout of farm watches in rural municipalities.
Speaker, as I have demonstrated, we are implementing a range of programmes geared towards reducing violence in the Western Cape.
When the Premier launched the Western Cape Safety Plan, he emphasized that its aim was to halve the murder rate in the Province. This has not changed. While this will be no easy task, we remain determined to drastically reduce all forms of violence, particularly interpersonal violence.
While there were 353 homicides in the first seven weeks of the year, which is 3.8% lower than in the same period for 2020, this figure is still unacceptably high. For this reason, we are moving forward with our amendments to the Western Cape Liquor Act, Youth Safety Ambassadors programme, rollout of Peace Officers, rural safety plan, and LEAP programme.
All this will be brought together through our ABTs. Our ABTs will ensure integrated, data-led and evidence-informed law enforcement deployments and violence prevention interventions. We are doing this because we care deeply about the safety of residents in the Western Cape and we will not hesitate to take the lead in making the Western Cape safer for all.
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