The Western Cape Premier presented the Western Cape Safety Plan: Working Document. The aims of the Safety Plan were highlighted with an emphasis to halve the murder rate in the Western Cape's top 10 hotspots.
Members asked about the cost of deployment of police officers in the hotspot areas; strategies to boost economic development; if the murder rate was the only indicator used to measure crime in the Western Cape; and the overall budget for the Safety Plan. The Committee welcomed the Working Document but felt that not enough clarity and detail was given on many aspects particularly the budget of the Safety Plan. A request for a brief and budget from the Department was, and for the South African Police proposal to the Equality Court mediation process on the equitable distribution of police resources in the Western Cape. Information would be provided on where applicants can apply for the 3000 new law enforcement positions and 150 investigators who will be needed for the "boots on the ground" initiative.
Western Cape Safety Plan: Western Cape Premier briefing
The Western Cape Premier, Mr Alan Winde, presented the Safety Plan: Working Document. He highlighted the general mandate to halve the murder rate and a focus on the expenditure of the Safety Plan, the employment and training of 150 investigators for every 1000 police officers on the ground. The Safety Plan speaks to using data and technology as means to find new ways that are dynamic and informed by evidence. The Plan needs to be read in conjunction with the five year 2019-2024 Provincial Strategic Plan. The legislation and policy framework was outlined in the Plan as an important component to allow the deployment of police officers around the province. The Plan outline is as follow:
- Crime and boots on the ground
- The problem: Concentrated high levels of crime and an inadequate police response
- Our response: Enhanced enforcement and investigative capacity
- Our approach: Data-led law enforcement and evidence-based policing
- First action steps
- Reducing and preventing violence
- The problem: Underlying causes of crime and violence
- Our response: Prioritised holistic, integrated and long-term actions
- Our approach: knowledge-based, adaptive and coordinated interventions
- Principles for implementation
- Ministerial responsibilities
The boots on the ground initiative requires support from the City of Cape Town to succeed. The Working Document speaks to the deployment of police officers with the use of data such as ambulance data, emergencies admission data, traffic data or data from citizens and from Neighbourhood Watches (NHWs) in particular. A key part in making the Western Cape Safety Plan successful will be to enhance technology and data analysis capability. The Safety Cabinet is envisaged to be the formal forum to enhance collaboration across the government. The Plan investigates the links that need to be brought into the Safety Cabinet to increase the fight against crime in South Africa. It looks strengthening family, learners and educators resilience to violence. The socio-ecological model of violence on page 12 brings together all the risk factors for violence in South Africa. The plan seeks to find ways to intervene and fight the build up of violence in communities.
Additionally, the plan sets out several ‘Safety Priorities’ for Western Cape Ministers and Government Departments with a common goal of fighting crime and reducing violence.
Mr Harry Malila, Director-General, Department of the Premier, Western Cape Government, emphasised their strong partnerships with National Government, and their next aim is to partner with communities and to get the private sector involved. The Safety Cabinet will look at the matters brought forward by the Safety Plan.
Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Mr Albert Fritz, added that there were four programmes that his department is working with to create safer communities and improve the economic development of youth.
Ms W Philander (DA) asked how the Rural Strategy would fit into the Western Cape Plan.
Mr C Dugmore (ANC) noted that the integration approach is a change from the previously used methods. He asked if the impact of the Plan is measured around murders or are other indicators acknowledged? Is the intention to focus on the top 10 areas with these interventions or will other areas be factored in. For the boots on the ground initiative on page 6, has the Department made a firm proposal for the allocation of police resources? What legal framework makes it possible to deploy police officers in different areas? No strategy is mentioned for boosting economic development – unemployment and poverty have a ripple effect on crime in the hotspot areas. What measures are being taken to address economic development? Lastly, what were the costs for training the newly appointed officers and to meet their salaries?
Mr M Xego (EFF) was concerned about how the plan would be welcomed at a national level. Is there an integrated plan to work with private security? How does the Department help the youth who are vulnerable to crime and drugs?
Mr R Allen (DA) questioned the engagement of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and SAPS to ensure that there are convictions in the cases that go to court. He asked about the laws put into place to ensure the shutdown of drug houses in the Western Cape.
The Chairperson remarked that 500 individuals are being recruited and trained to be police officers and investigators. That is an exciting programme that will ensure change in communities in the next six months and he encouraged people to start applying.
The Western Cape Premier added to the Chairperson's remarks that a special website had been created for people to start applying where a background check will be done on all applicants. He could not answer the question about drug house shutdowns. Investigators are swamped with over 200 cases and reduce these to a minimum of 20. The 150 investigators to be recruited and trained for every 1000 officers will help with this and prepare dockets for prosecution.
Premier Winde said that it is important to build relations with the private sector and build partnerships to increase security systems and measures in hotspot areas. Putting this plan together requires funding and huge spending cuts are happening which makes it more difficult to fully implement the plan. The City of Cape Town has made an application to National Government to deploy law enforcement capability into the hotspot areas because they do not have the power to allocate police officers to the police stations in the top 10 hotspots. Deployment would take place according to crime statistics, police need to go to places where there is high crime. Flexibility into the Province will only happen once the plan succeeds in these hotspot areas.
Western Cape Community Safety Minister Fritz responded to the question on economic development for the youth, saying that the Chrysalis Programme is growing nationally and was set to receive land, and everyone is joining in helping to grow the project. On a city level there are collaborations to evict people with drug houses – the law needs to be revisited to the change law around evicting drug house owners.
The Premier replied about using the murder rate as the metric and neglecting other indicators. He clarified that there are departments that look at the other indicators and the Safety Plan’s focus is to halve the murder rate in the Western Cape.
Mr Malila confirmed that they are working very closely with the rural areas and added that Minister Fritz and Minister Meyer are driving the Rural Strategy. Agriculture is important, as is agriculture market access and rural employment. The Rural Strategy underpins the Safety Plan. The fight against crime in the Western Cape needs a collective whole-of-government approach that has been bought into by all departments and municipalities.
Mr Gideon Morris, Head of Department: Western Cape Department of Community Safety, noted that the Equality Court mediation process is still ongoing. Police have put proposals on the table on how police deploy resources where they are most needed in the Western Cape.
Mr Malila promised to make the information on how and where to apply available to the Committee.
Mr Dugmore pointed out that questions on the budget were not answered thoroughly and a request to the Department to provide a brief and budget of how much is spent on the boots on the ground initiative.
The Chairperson added that an updated report on the impact of the plan should be requested from the Department. It was noted that the murder rates should not alone be the metrics used to measure the progress of the Safety Plan, other indicators should be factored.
Mr Dugmore requested that Community Safety provide an update of the Equality Court proceedings. Mr Morris said that the South African Police had made a proposal on the equitable distribution of police resources. Could we get a copy of that proposal?
The Chairperson welcomed the Safety Plan and requested that the Committee work closely with the Premier to monitor the progress and impact of the Safety Plan.
Mr Dugmore corrected the Chairperson and requested that they should rather welcome the Working Document/Strategy instead of a Safety Plan.