Western Cape Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill: Community Safety

Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport (WCPP)

27 November 2020
Chairperson: Mr R Allen (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport, 27 November 2020, 11:00

Western Cape Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill2020 
Second Adjusted Estimates of Provincial Revenue and Expenditure 2020 

In a virtual meeting, the Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport supported Budget Vote 4 of the Western Cape Adjustment Appropriation Bill: Community Safety. The ANC express a minority view not to support the budget vote.

Department said it had to think innovatively in order to deliver services to the communities during this Covid-19 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic has led to the adjustment of budget in the Department. An increase of R83m has been made to the initial budget to ensure safety in the province and employment of safety ambassadors in communities. The Department has transferred R1m to the Department of the Premier for software, while another R1m has been transferred to the Department of Economic Development. She further indicated the Compensation of Employees (COE) budget has been realigned and some funds have been surrendered to the provincial treasury. The increase is meant to meet the safety plans of the province

Members wanted to know if there were funds put aside to meet the increasing gang-related crime in the communities and taxi violence where innocent people were losing their lives in public spaces; if the transfer of funds to neighbourhood watches meant there would be no CPFs during this festive period and what the impact of that would be; the mandate to oversee funds allocated for safety in the province,

total number of posts affected by the wage freeze; and the process of training peace officers.

Meeting report

Discussion
Department presentation on the Vote

Adv Yashina Pillay, Acting HOD: Department of Community Safety, briefly informed the Committee her Department had to think innovatively in order to deliver services to the communities during this Covid-19 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic has led to the adjustment of budget in the Department. An increase of R83m has been made to the initial budget to ensure safety in the province and employment of safety ambassadors in communities. The Department has transferred R1m to the Department of the Premier for software, while another R1m has been transferred to the Department of Economic Development. She further indicated the Compensation of Employees (COE) budget has been realigned and some funds have been surrendered to the provincial treasury. The increase is meant to meet the safety plans of the province.

Discussion
Mr M Kama (ANC) welcomed the increase in the budget of the Department, but wondered if it would be enough for the work to be done in the province. He wanted to know if there were funds put aside to meet the increasing gang-related crime in the communities and taxi violence where innocent people were losing their lives in public spaces. He also wanted to understand if the transfer of funds to neighbourhood watches meant there would be no Community Policing Forums (CPFs) during this festive period and what the impact of that would be.

Adv Pillay indicated there are interventions in place to curb murder rates in the province, but they would like to be given an opportunity to present to the Committee recovery plans and interventions – an integrated approach. The Department was not looking at law enforcement only, but to establish area- based teams as from 8 December in areas such as Nyanga, Langa, Hanover Park, Mfuleni, Gugulethu, and Delft. The Department has to deal with the real causes of the problems in these areas, and that would necessitate working with CPFs. These area-based teams would also be spread to the entire province. Peace officers / ambassadors are going to support the efforts of the Department. That is why the Department is putting all the resources together towards a common goal. She pointed out there would be reduction in the CPFs because they could not hold their Annual General Meetings (AGMs) due to Covid-19 restrictions. She said the neighbouring watch projects would ensure the wearing of masks and social distancing in Covid-19 hotspot areas.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) remarked that R2m has been given to the City of Cape Town to train peace officers yet the Department and the Committee have no mandate to oversee the money allocated for the training of peace officers. He further welcomed the money given to neighbourhood watches. He said communities are different and wondered why neighbourhood watches are not deployed in crime-ridden communities instead of affluent ones.

Adv Pillay agreed there was no oversight on law enforcement. Currently, the Department was reviewing the Western Cape Safety Act to correct the matter because it has been identified as a challenge. The Department was also trying to assist district municipalities because they get funding for ensuring safety in their districts.

Ms A Bans (ANC) asked for an update on the filling of the Police Ombudsman post.

Adv Pillay stated the Department has an agreement with the Department of Economic Development for the establishment of area-based teams. The Safety Plan from the Department of the Premier is now under the departments of Community Safety, Arts and Culture, and Sport and Health.

Mr P Marais (FF+) remarked that one cannot throw money at crime - it has to be thrown at the law to fight crime. There are so many criminals who are roaming the streets because they received very light sentences. The minister will never win the fight against crime as long as the sentences for crime offenders are very light.

Ms R Windvogel (DA) wanted to understand the total number of posts affected by the wage freeze.

Adv Pillay explained the COE has seen a reduction of R13m. 22 positions have been put on hold. The Department is only focusing on critical posts. The R13m reduction has been effected across the board. A list of the total amount of posts affected would be sent to the Committee.

Mr Kama asked for clarity on the R24m allocated for the training and placement of peace officers. He wanted to understand if the process of training peace officers was separate or if it would include the continuous use of the Chrysalis Academy in the training of peace officers. He further asked for clarity on the establishment of peace ambassadors and where they would be located.

Adv Pillay explained the peace officers were an addition to the Chrysalis Academy trained graduates. These peace officers would be deployed in rural district municipalities such as Laingsberg, Prince Albert, and Beaufort West, for example. The Safety Ambassadors project has created additional 1 000 work opportunities that would be provided by the Department. The Safety Ambassadors would be placed in crime hotspots and would be paid a stipend for a period of 12 months.

Mr Marais wanted to find out how long the Department was intending to have the CPFs and peace officers and when it was expecting a turnaround in the fight against crime by employing the services of the peace officers and ambassadors, and what the envisaged impact would be.

Adv Pillay stated it would be difficult to indicate timeframes and impact. The murder rate is monitored weekly. 80% of gang-related crime nationally comes from the Western Cape. The Department has data to monitor and track crime using evidence-based research. The Department would love to present to the Committee its new approaches in the rolling of its safety plans.

The Chairperson asked Members to use their parliamentary privileges in making inputs to the budget vote.
Mr G Bosman (DA) proposed the budget be supported.

Ms L Botha (DA) seconded the proposition.

Mr Kama indicated the ANC was expressing a minority view not to support the budget.

The Chairperson indicated the Committee has deliberated and resolved to support the vote, while the ANC expressed a minority view not to support it.

The Committee then resolved to note the request by the Department to present its new approaches in the rolling of its safety plans.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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