The Department of the Premier and the Department of Community Safety gave an update on the Western Cape Strategy Plan which was launched in February 2020 with the first 500 law enforcement officerstrained and deployed by the City of Cape Town costing R130 million. The Western Cape Government had to make significant budget, deployment, and area changes to the strategic plan due to the National Lockdown.
Members asked about the Safety Plan's reduction in deployment size from 3000 to 1000law enforcement officers; Western Cape's response to violent crime and gender-based violence during lockdown; the aim for 50% reduced murder rate in ten years' time; youth at risk and gangsterism.There was a discussion on the effect of the lifting of the alcohol ban on trauma units and violent crime and whether the Western Cape is considering a reintroduction of the liquor ban.
The Western Cape Premier claimed that the province had already pushed the constitutional envelope in its role of oversight by introducing law enforcementbecause the police to citizen ratio is low. The province has not made a decision yet about reinstating the liquor ban. The province is using data to assess this. He said that the province willbring some quick fixes to the liquor legislation.
Dr Hildegarde Fast, Head of Policy and Strategy: Western Cape Government,and Department of Community Safety Head of Department, Mr Gideon Morris, presented. It was noted that due to COVID-19, they have had to shift budget allocations to COVID-19 initiatives. Examples include school violence which is less relevant at the moment and tourism safety is less applicable as there are no tourists.
Summary of Safety Plan
The Western Cape developed its Safety Plan as part of its 5-year Provincial Strategic Plan
• Two focus areas: Violence Prevention and Law Enforcement
• Three spheres of intervention for violence prevention involving 13 departments
• 21 Safety Priorities (interventions) with 1 overall goal: halve the murder rate in 10 years.
• Safety Planhas a Policing + Violence Prevention strategy which recognises crime cannot be reduced unless violence prevention and policing work hand in hand. This requires long-term area-based, multi-agency interventions, not just short-term law enforcement ones. It is a “whole of society” initiative where the police, criminal justice system, Province, City of Cape Town, and communities work together in area-based teams. It will identify and implement strategies based upon the evidence.
• The Safety Cabinet keeps track of progress of implementation. First Safety Cabinet was 19 February but Second Safety Cabinet of 8 April 2020 did not happen due to COVID-19
• Area-based teams will be established in high-crime areas linking policing and violence prevention: Nyanga, Delft, Khayelitsha, Philippi East, Harare, Gugulethu, Mfuleni, Kraaifontein, Mitchell's Plain, Bishop Lavis, Philippi (including Hanover Park)
• Built on a strong partnership between SAPS, the City and Western Cape Government
• Relying on data-ledevidence to understand the problems and plan interventions better
• Constant process of assessment, learning and adjusting interventions accordingly
Update on the Law Enforcement Advancement Programme (LEAP) deployment
• February 2020: Transfer Payment Agreement signed and transfer of R130 million for recruitment, training and deployment of first 500 law enforcement officers(LEOs)
• First areas of deployment: Delft and Khayelitsha
• COVID-19 adaptationmeant LEOs were re-deployed to enforce Level 5 and 4 lockdown regulations and safety needs and deal with homeless people. Crime hotspots are not aligned with medical hotspots
• In Level 3 they are now deployed in the COVID-19 hotspot areas, coordinated by SAPS
• Operational decisions made in consultation with SAPS
• Weekly progress reports by CoCT on targets for deployment; quarterly expenditure reports by CoCT
• Next Transfer Payment Agreement being discussed with CoCT
• The current budget for 1 000 LEO over the five years was presented
• Budgetary allocations are now being reviewed as part of COVID-19 adjustments
Research on shifts in crime and violence during the lockdown
• Focus: Impact of ban on sale of alcohol on violence; Under-reporting of domestic violence
• Overall 46.8% decrease in homicides in the province
• Research findings will be finalised by mid-June
• Opportunity to engage on alcohol harm reduction after COVID, which could include: Regulations on sale of liquor; Targeted policing of illegal sale of alcohol; Address problematic alcohol behaviour
• There is a joint initiative between Department of the Premier and DSD including academia to increase reporting of GBV and to change negative social norms about gender and GBV
• GBV victims are more likely to report to secondary sources of help such as NGOs, SAPS, and informal channels instead of the GBV Command Centre of the Department of Social Development (DSD)
• Barriers to GBV reporting during lockdown: Basic needs come first, seeking assistance following abuse is secondary; Lack of information about being allowed to report to police during lockdown; Increasing poverty: No access to cell phones or airtime, transport money; Fear of contracting COVID-19; SAPS assistance is uneven (women turned away, SAPS staff unaware of referral pathways, victim-friendly rooms not available)
• GBV proposed interventions post-lockdown were discussed.
• The overall objective of the Safety Plan remains halving the murder rate in 10 years.
• The priority police stations with 50% of all murders continue to be the focus
• Post COVID-19, LEAP will be deployed again through data-led and evidence-based strategies
building on the strong partnership between SAPS, the CoCT and the WCG
• Engagements with the 13 Departments on their Safety Priorities in light of the impact of COVID-19
• Two specific transversal areas of focus: Alcohol harms reduction / Gender-based violence
Mr P Marais (FF+) asked if the Department takes responsibility for law enforcement during the lockdown. He noted the death of a young man murdered with a hammer during the lockdown and asked if there has been an investigation. He voiced concern that the Collins Khosa case might be repeated by law enforcement. He noted the handling of GBV perpetrators and asked why the victims of these crimes are removed from their households and not the perpetrators. He askedif the Department understands ghetto culture, referring to the fact that some women or victims do not have access to resources such as airtime to call for help. He asked the 10-year plan to reduce murder rate by 50% as this result should be immediate.
Mr R Allen (DA) asked how successful law enforcement officersare in assisting the communities in addressing violent crime besides the COVID-19 response. Reducing crime requires a long term, holistic approach and this must be taken into consideration. He asked if the interventions mentioned in the presentation have been introduced. He asked for an update on neighbourhood watches and the rolling out of sanitizers and masks. What is the number of people allowed to operate in the hotspot areas? He queried what HOD Morris meant by “in conjunction with SAPS” when talking about the safety of medical hotspots and crime hotspots.
Mr M Kama (ANC) referred to slide 7 and agreed with Dr Fast that safety priorities foryouth at risk such as after-school programmes had to be halted due to lockdown. However, what support are the families with youth at risk being given as these youths are the first port of call for gang recruitments? He referenced slide 8 and asked if the cancelled cabinet meeting due to COVID-19 has been rescheduled. The plan was a R1 million plan initially with the deployment of 3000 law enforcement officials but slide 11 states 1000 deployed. Has this changed?
Western Cape Premier Mr Alan Winde replied that a National Declaration of State of Disaster was declared which makes the police and army in charge. The province has aligned itself with the principles of that declaration. He is unsure about the action taken on the murder case mentioned by Mr Marais. The criminal justice system is not within the constitutional mandate of the province; the provincial role is just one of oversight. The province had to bring in law enforcement officers because the police to citizen ratio is low. This is a long term project. The province is learning from successful case studies and will improve where needed. All departments are involved in this process. For example, economic development is needed in areas with high gangsterism. This is needed especially once there are boots on the ground. On the medical and crime hotspot responses, many LEAP officers have been deployed to help with the lockdown and it is now clear that these officers need to come back to the hot spots. The reduction of the deployment size from 3000 to 1000 officers is due to the budget adjustment process. This matter will be discussed in the budget talks. The Safety Cabinet has not met yet and the Premier would like to get it running again.
MEC of Community Safety, Mr Albert Fritz, replied that the province pushed the constitutional envelope by introducing extra law enforcement. The province meets with judges to look at the case flow management process. Gangsterism prevention continued during the lockdown. The neighbourhood watch groups were not allowed to patrol previously during lockdown but the Secretariat of Police has just granted the neighbourhood watch patrol rights from 1 June. The neighbourhood watches are now in the process of rolling out and will assist with the school programme and helping at supermarkets. Plans will be made to provide personal protective equipment to them. Alcohol has a huge impact on violence – 134 people are believed to have been murdered after the lifting of restriction of the sale of alcohol so far. A major factor is the unlicensed shebeenswhich is being monitored.
Mr Morris replied that the cabinet meets twice a week and every Monday now. In terms of the 21 priorities, some of these are not happening at the moment such as the school procedures due to previous lockdown restrictions. When there are issues of murder and alcohol, this is discussed during those cabinet meetings. Every week since February the province has monitored the murder rate and the focus never left reducing murder. They will ask the Department of Social Development to formally respond to Mr Marais question about GBV.
Ms Ammaarah Martinus, Director of Policy and Strategy Unit, Department of the Premier, added that if the perpetrator is removed, the perpetrator goes to SAPs and sits in a police cell. However, since the justice system works slowly, the perpetrator will be reintroduced to the victim and the cycle continues. However, she agreed that more needs to be done.
Mr Morris provided more detail on the Provincial Joint Operational Centre (PROVJOC). The PROVJOCwas activated immediately when the state of disaster was declared and operates on a 24/7 basis, chaired by SAPS and the SANDF. All neighbourhood watches have been activated, following section 6 of the Western Cape Community Safety Act. There are a total of 366 structures and 14 000 members. These watches have been activated in medical hotspots areas focused on maintaining social distancing and cleaning of social areas. In terms of reducing gangsterism, a factor that needs to be considered is a historic one. With the release of people on parole, brings about a question involving how they integrate into society, especially habitual criminals.
Ms W Philander (DA) asked about the impact of the alcohol ban on the Western Cape. She asked what the role of the liquor board is. She asked if the ban could be implemented again in the Western Cape.
Mr Kama asked what the province is doing within the Safety Plan to fight GBV.
Mr Marais appreciated the response from the department about removing perpetrators from the victim. There must also be a plan for GBV for non-domestic violence cases; he asked if there are hotlines. He asked if it is possible to suspend parts of the Constitution to enable protection for young people at risk from gun violence.
Premier Winde replied that the unbanning of alcohol sales had an impact on the trauma units. During the strict lockdown, the number of beds used for alcohol-fuelled trauma in the trauma units dropped by 100 beds. When the ban was lifted, it came back at 50%. The province has not made a decision yet about reinstating the liquor ban. The province is using data to assess this. Western Cape has not made a decision yet but is monitoring it closely and will have further discussions on Friday 12 June. There is a hotline for GBV which is 0800 150 150.
The Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Mr Albert Fritz, replied that there are possible new ways to deal with the massive murder rate. After the ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted, there has been an increase in this rate. Some of these related to murders using a blunt object as a weapon. The Department is looking at this very seriously. He replied to Mr Marais that more needs to be done about the handling of the perpetrators in GBV situations.
Mr Morris mentioned the Department of Community Safety website has several resources to help including the Western Cape Government Contact Centre hotline 0860 142 142. The Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, has dedicated not only a 16 Days of Activism Against GBV in December but the GBV programme will run throughout the year. Social workers are working in the GBV space andprogrammes are in place to provide good examples for men.
Mr Morris replied to Mr Kama about what the province is doing within the Safety Plan to fight GBV. The Department’s Safety Plan is to reduce GBV, they are increasing communication with the public, not only with COVID-19 but other matters specifically related to the Department of Social Development. He said that the government is taking the alcohol issue seriously and has done the analysis, which they presented, of the relationship between lifting of the sale of alcohol and the increase in occupied trauma units.
Dr Fast replied that the area-based teams have been constituted. They want integrated teams that include law enforcement, police officers, and urban management.Teams have not been activated yet due to COVID-19, however, the constitution of the teams will happen every few months with 500 workers in the integrated teams. The areas that will be in focus are Khayelitsha, Phillipi/Hanover Park, which will be in place in the next three months.
Mr Morris discussed the involvement of the Western Cape Liquor Authority. They immediately arranged that the Liquor Authority was involved in the Provincial Joint Operational Centre (PROVJOC) structure. The Liquor Authority dealt with the illegal selling of alcohol during the lockdown. There had been 62 cases and 32 licences were revoked.
Premier Winde stated they will learn and implement further. The Department wants to bring quick fixes to the liquor legislation which is low hanging fruit that does not require a large number of amendments.
MEC Fritz assured the Committee that they are working hard at crime prevention.
No committee resolutions were noted. The meeting minutes of 17 March were adopted.
The meeting ended.
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