In a virtual meeting, the Committee convened to briefed on the policing needs and priorities (PNP) for the Western cape in 2019/20. Input was provided by the Western Cape Department of Community Safety, Cape Town Metro Police Department and the City of Cape.
The Western Cape was highlighted as having the highest murder rates in the country and due to lack of resources, the continued efforts for effective policing are proving insufficient. The key constraint within the provinces law enforcement is the need for sufficient human resources. This not only involves police personnel visibility but the number of detectives available for investigations. Records within the South African Police Service (SAPS) reveal that available detectives are overloaded with work, having to take responsibility of about 200 cases at a time.
The Mayor's urban development programme has seen the roll-out of investigative and strategic management resources to combat crime within Cape Town's various communities. However, there is need for continued coordination on integrated anti-crime operations and information sharing between the Metro Police and the SAPS. In addition, the comprehensive safety plan that spoke to the policing and safety needs of the respective districts has been conceptualised. This safety plan also outlines the responsibility of all government entities and social partners.
There was concern that the Committee had heard the same information over and over again and the reports were filled with “moans and complaints” – calls were made to upgrade the status of the metro police for further empowerment and consider metro police stations especially in the townships. A suggestion was made that the Committee should also be briefed formally by the City of Cape Town. Concern was raised by the absence of the SAPS when there was a urgent need for a serious conversation with the SAPS on allocation of adequate and pointed resources in the province.
The Committee resolved to
- call for provincial forensic services to report to the province, instead of national, as was currently the case.
- the Department should conduct a feasibility study on whether forensic services should be taken away from SAPS and made a competency of the Department of Health.
-look into the fact that no safety plan workshop had been conducted with the City of Cape Town especially as members of the public would have wanted to make inputs on such a safety plan.
- ask the SAPS to extend the deadline related inputs for the PNP and for the SAPS to provide written input and called for a seven day extension.
Western Cape Department of Community Safety briefing on Provincial Policing Needs and Priorities 2019/20
Adv Yashina Pillay, Acting Head of Department: Community Safety, Western Cape, and Ms Amanda Dissel, Director: Policy and Research, Department of Community Safety, Western Cape, briefed the Committee on the Western Cape’s provincial policing needs and priorities for 2019/20.
Members were taken through the legal mandate for policing needs and priorities (PNP), how the PNP process was conducted for the 2019/20 financial year as well as an overview of crime trends in the province. The presentation then addressed police resource distribution, police performance and key safety concerns and recommendations in terms of the PNP.
[See presentation attached for details]
Cape Town Metropolitan Police Department (CTMPD) input on Provincial Policing needs and Priorities in the Western Cape
Chief Wayne Le Roux, Chief: Cape Town Metropolitan Police Department, and Mr Richard Bosman, Executive Director: Safety and Security for the City of Cape Town (CoC), briefed the Committee on the policing needs and priorities of the Cape Town Metropolitan Police Department (CTMPD).
The Committee was informed that human resource issues continue to hamper effective policing and that removing drugs and alcohol from circulation would be more effective than policing the outlets. It was emphasised that this was not only the responsibility of the SAPS but that of the communities as well and formed active community partnerships would help regain the confidence and trust in the SAPS.
[See presentation attached for further details]
Input by the City of Cape Town
Mr JP Smith, Mayoral committee member: Safety and Security, City of Cape Town, informed Members that the City of Cape (CoC) considered the critical lack of resources for SAPS as a key focus. He recalled the court case brought the by Social Justice Coalition against government for the inadequate police resources in Khayelitsha as an important step in ensuring the provision of adequate policing and resources.
The CoC was faced with immense pressure as a result of inadequate policing and this forced a redirection of resources towards crime prevention. He reminded Members that the core function of the Metro Police was to enforce traffic laws as well as the by-laws of the CoC. There had been various measures instituted to address rising levels of crime in areas such as Nyanga and Hanover Park and initial assessments pointed towards positive feedback from the residents in the two communities.
He informed Members that the Mayor's urban development programme has seen the roll-out of investigative and strategic management resources to combat crime within Cape Town's various communities. However, there is need for continued coordination on integrated anti-crime operations and information sharing with the SAPS.
He expressed his gratitude towards the provincial government's intervention to assist the CoC and regarded this approach as visionary as the CoC was under constant pressure to fill gaps in the absence of adequate policing and resources. He also added that he was not aware of any other province having done something similar. Several collaborations are key to the CoC's strategy to combat crime as it had to continuously "push the envelope" and redefine its role when it came to crime prevention.
He also spoke about the expansion of policing powers in conjunction with the national Minister of Justice. It is important to support the SAPS coupled with the ten intervention devised by the CoC to fight crime. These are far from perfect; however, it is hoped that these interventions will assist to stem the tide.
He broached the subject of cutting into funds meant for core competencies being directed towards unfunded mandates. He called on the province to use its concurrent powers to assist the CoC with certain regulations, specifically the regulation of close circuit cameras (CCTV) that had become one of the prime crime-fighting tools in the private sector and certain communities. He added that more substantial regulations were required and that the CoC would take the province's guidance on the regulations.
On discipline within Metro Police ranks, he informed that the CoC was doing much better in terms of discipline and that there was always room for improvement. The bottom line, he stated, was resources, not only actual boots on the ground but also detective services. He recalled that during a previous interaction with the SAPS he had been informed that detectives were overloaded with cases. In many instances, a detective would be saddled with about 200 cases and in some cases substantially more. There was a need to push for more detectives to be assigned to the CoC, especially in light of rising incidences of gender-based violence (GBV) and gang violence. Gang violence placed an enormous strain on the resources of the CoC.
Another area of concern had been rising incidences of land invasions. He noted that stakeholders needed to have an honest and frank conversation about the impact this illegal activity had on the CoC and spatial development and noted that it was impossible to interdict land invasions. He informed Members that communities had engaged him on the need to stop this tendency and that complaints did not originate from leafy suburbs. Community members from Delft, Wallacedene, Khayelitsha and Mfuleni amongst others have all expressed their displeasure at the occupation of public land. The occupation of public land meant for community development seriously hampered efforts for economic and community development. The same could be said for the encroachment on land meant for traditional practices such as initiation schools. This presents another opportunity for collaboration between the various spheres of government and other stakeholders to stem the tide. He also mentioned that the CoC was considering an unauthorised land occupation by-law.
Mr M Kama (ANC) welcomed the presentation and requested clarity on why a certain workshop did not take place.
He further added that the recommendations of the PNP report mainly touched on what the SAPS had to do but was silent on the role of other government entities. He stated that he did not see any urgency or commitment from other government entities in the fight against crime. Many communities complained about inadequate streetlights as a situation that exacerbated criminality and hampered effective policing operations. He recalled a recent incident where members of the anti-gang unit had been shot at by criminals at an area in Samora Machel, which was covered in darkness. He stated that it was futile to put more boots on the ground when police were hampered in the execution of their duties.
Mr P Marais (FF+) stated that the Committee had been presented with carbon copies of previous presentations and that these contained nothing new. He added that the only things that the Members heard were moans and complaints about gangsterism and other illegal activities and mentioned that the Committee did not need these presentations. What needed to be done was for the province and the CoC to explore how constitutional clauses could be circumvented legally to empower the CoC to act decisively. He added that the Committee was faced with entities that “wanted to go to the moon with a helicopter".
He reminded Members that the enlargement of the Metro Police had been his idea and he was happy that the DA accepted this. He called on the authorities to upgrade the status of the Metro Police to that of highway patrol police as one way to empower them and this was highly possible.
Mr Marais also asked whether the CoC had considered opening Metro police stations in townships and where in the Constitution was it mentioned that the Metro Police could not operate service stations. He said that the public could lodge cases about land invasions and other petty crimes to these stations.
Alderman Smith noted that he was present when the Metro Police was created and that whilst it may be true that Mr Marais played a role, the current Deputy Mayor of Cape Town, Mr Ian Nielson also played an important role.
He explained that it was not possible to create Metro Police stations as the relevant legislation prescribed that the Metro Police could only make an arrest and then hand over suspects to the SAPS. The Metro Police was not allowed to operate holding cells but did operate service points in certain suburbs, with depots in Bonteheuwel, Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha. These depots acted as nodal points where officers clocked in and out for work, stored their firearms and pass out parades and should not be considered as community service centres.
He sketched a scenario where community members might complain if they arrived at a Metro Police station only to find several officers congregating there or if there was no one to offer assistance when officers were on patrol. He also raised the issue of resources and stressed that it would simply be too costly to operate such stations, however, he understood the reasons why Mr Marais advanced such an idea.
He was at pains to explain that the presentations had been copied and pasted from previous years and that there had been several improvements in different areas.
He cited the massive surge in CCTV cameras, the introduction of a strategic information management system and changes with the interim command system.
He stressed that the CoC did not moan about the actual realities on the ground but had been hamstrung by the Human Rights Commission on issues related to homelessness and anti-social behaviour. These are real-world consequences of legislation devised by Members, he added.
There is a tug of war between crime prevention and the massive shortfall and the actual mandate of the Metro Police.
Ms Dissel responded to the question on the workshop that had been conducted with districts and not the CoC. She mentioned that a series of workshops had been conducted with the districts to assist them with drafting safety plans. The policing concerns of the province had been taken into account and although there had not been direct consultation with the CoC, the provincial department had its pulse on the challenges experienced by the CoC.
She added that there had been broad agreement that community policing forums (CPFs) had to be capacitated in terms of resources and that information from all districts had been incorporated. The comprehensive safety plan that spoke to the policing and safety needs of the respective districts had been conceptualised. This safety plan also outlined the responsibility of all government entities and social partners. She indicated that the Department would gladly share the safety plan report with the Committee.
In response to Mr Marais claim that the presentations had been copied and pasted, she noted that many of the identified issues had been raised previously as well. These remained ongoing issues that required long-term and focused interventions. She called on the Committee to continue playing a robust oversight role as this would ensure that outstanding challenges are addressed.
Mr Kama recalled an interaction with SAPS were the outcomes of a certain study was discussed. He reiterated that the SAPS had the national competency over policing and called for additional resources. He also recalled that the Department had indicated that R5 million had been earmarked to engage the services of reservists. He requested clarity on whether this initiative had been implemented and added that there needed to be a conducive environment for effective policing.
He also called on the Committee to consider calling the CoC for a briefing as many issues that had been raised needed to be addressed.
Mr G Bosman (DA) noted that a lot had been said about "fostering closer cooperation", yet the SAPS was not in attendance. The lack of resources seriously hampered policing efforts with municipalities going above and beyond their constitutional mandates when it came to fighting crime. Municipalities realised that if safe spaces are to be created, they had to take initiative.
He said that serious conversations were needed with the SAPS on the allocation of adequate and precise resources. Questions on what the SAPS intended to do about the alignment of resources to the province's needs had to be answered. He further asked whether the SAPS had been involved in the drafting of the district safety plans and proposed that a meeting be convened with all stakeholders, with input from the SAPS.
Alderman Smith replied that the constitution provided for policing to be a national, provincial and local competency. He stated that he knew that it served the interest of the national ruling party to only have one police service. According to the alderman, the SAPS Amendment Act was in all likelihood unconstitutional and that there was a need to test the validity of the Act. He said that he knew that the province already developed a position on this.
He added that it was incorrect to assert that the CoC failed to allocate adequate resourcing for crime prevention, as it had set aside R500 million and the province about R1.3 billion for crime prevention. The CoC, he said had about 500 police reservists and this was the only metro in the country to have this added support.
He addressed Mr Kama directly and informed him that the CoC's resources had been allocated to areas that required intervention and invited him to peruse information to this effect.
Ms Pillay indicated that she could not fully hear the question posed by Mr Kama, however, she stressed that follow-up interactions had been conducted with the SAPS and the latter's concerns had been noted.
She confirmed that the SAPS had attended the district safety plan meetings and provided valuable inputs and that the province had a cordial working relationship with the provincial police commissioner. The provincial commissioner and her team attended regular cabinet meetings and the police commissioner attended a recent cabinet meeting where she gave extensive feedback on the progress made to combat extortion in the CoC.
She stressed that the Department had worked closely with the CoC and SAPS on issues of deployment and that a workshop was due to be conducted to strengthen operations in the five priority suburbs of Cape Town. At this workshop, area-based approaches would be developed.
Mr Marais said that he was inclined to look for solutions and that he was not a moaner. He noted that officials liked to talk about how hard they worked, yet they did not inform the Committee of how much they earned. According to Mr Marais, officials are not paid for hard work, but results. He stated, "Don't sweat here in my garden, when you haven't planted anything".
He said that he had read the Constitution to understand why the Constitutional Court ruled as it does on the land invasions, and it guaranteed adequate access to housing. He said no laws had been passed that defined adequate housing in relation to access to housing and called on the Committee to pass such a bill.
The Chairperson replied that such a Bill would fall outside of the ambit of the Standing Committee and that this was a matter for human settlements or the Department of the Premier.
Mr Marais asked whether the Chairperson was not a Member of that cluster.
The Chairperson replied that he was not.
Mr Marais said that in that case, he would raise it in the proper forum.
The Chairperson said there was always room to engage other Members.
Mr Bosman proposed that the Committee should call for provincial forensic services to report to the province, instead of national, as was currently the case. He also called on the Committee to resolve that the Department should conduct a feasibility study on whether forensic services should be taken away from SAPS and made a competency of the Department of Health.
Mr Kama asked for clarity on how the Committee would proceed as he was under the impression that Members were supposed to agree on the way forward. He had thought that Members would engage on the meeting report.
He also expressed concern that no safety plan workshop had been conducted with the CoC and mentioned that he was sure that members of the public would have wanted to make inputs on such a safety plan.
The Chairperson said that he would like the Committee to resolve to ask the SAPS to extend the deadline related inputs for the PNP and for the SAPS to provide written input and called for a seven day extension.
He informed Members that he had received communication from the Provincial Commissioner that she would not be able to attend and that a written submission would be provided.
Meeting was adjourned.
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