Minister Cele must implement Western Cape Government’s latest Policing Needs and Priorities report
CAPE TOWN: At a Cabinet lekgotla held in Pretoria this week Premier Alan Winde handed over the Provincial Policing Needs and Priorities (PNP) report, compiled by the Western Cape Police Oversight and Community Safety Ministry, for the 2021/22 financial year.
As it was the first lekgotla to be held in person since all Covid-19 restrictions were dropped, the Premier had the opportunity to hand over the document directly to Police Minister Bheki Cele.
“I hope the Minister will take the time to study the report,” said Premier Winde, “and seriously consider its contents and urgently implement its recommendations.”
The PNP is compiled annually to help the Provincial Government and South African Police Service (SAPS) identify and address challenges. It is based on the constitutional and legislative obligations placed on the National Minister for Police and the Provincial Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety. Minister Reagen Allen said: “Not only is the report a legislative responsibility of my Department, but it also assists with ensuring we are able to alert the SAPS as to what the actual needs are in their domain.”
“You matter, your safety and well-being matter,” stressed the Premier referring to Western Cape residents. This is the reason why the report is compiled each year to gauge successes and gaps in policing generally.
Among the more cogent findings in the PNP report are:
The continued skewed policing resource allocation, especially in poorer neighbourhoods;
Gender-based violence, substance abuse and gangsterism remain among the most serious issues plaguing Western Cape communities.
Among the recommendations contained in the report to resolve some of these problems include:
Renewing and amending the formula used by the SAPS to allocate deployments at station levels;
All SAPS members must be adequately trained on how to handle GBV cases;
A harms-reduction approach to policing needs to be adopted to tackle substance abuse;
The SAPS’ Anti-gang Unit needs to be better capacitated to conduct intelligence driven operations;
Confiscated firearms must be destroyed on a more regular basis.
Closer collaboration between the Police Service and other law enforcement entities, such as the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) – an initiative of the Western Cape Government and City of Cape Town – underpins all these recommendations, along with basing crime-fighting strategies on data and evidence.
The Premier said: “As the Provincial Government together with the City and our other crime-fighting partners, we are doing everything possible to make communities safer and to give back citizens their dignity and hope.”
He added: “Our interventions are clearly working.” According to the latest quarterly crime statistics, there was a drop of over 8% in murders in areas in Cape Town where LEAP has been rolled out.
Minister Allen continued: “This report provides the SAPS with factual information so that it, as a national entity, is able to deploy resources where and how they are required. SAPS deployment cannot continue in the same manner. Sanity is required and the National Police Minister should act immediately.”
Last month the Premier had the opportunity to interact with community members while he was accompanying a group of LEAP officers on patrol in Bonteheuwel. He recalled: “A number of residents came out of their homes to tell us about the good work LEAP members are doing. But more needs to be done. Minister Cele must take seriously the PNP recommendations. More importantly, he must listen to ordinary citizens affected by crime.”
The Provincial Government has a constructive relationship with Western Cape Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Thembisile Patekile. “Our issue is not with the hardworking women and men in the South African Police Service who put their safety on the line daily,” The Premier and Minister Allen emphasised, “We intend building on this relationship in the interests of improving policing.
Premier Winde concluded: “The most significant impediment to this is Minister Cele, who does not seem to appreciate that many communities continue to live in fear. To date we have seen poor adherence to the PNPs we issue, and this must change. We will be keeping close tabs in the interests of our residents’ safety”.