Gang-related violence in Western Cape: stakeholder engagement

Police Oversight, Community Safety and Cultural Affairs (WCPP)

31 March 2021
Chairperson: Mr R Allen (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport

The Committee was briefed by the South African Police Service (SAPS), the City of Cape Town (CoCT) and the Western Cape Department of Community Safety (DCS) on their roles and challenges in dealing with the on-going gang-related violence in the province.

Members were alarmed and frustrated at what appeared to be a lack in progress in the fight against gangsterism and crime. They referred to the recommendations of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry, and asked what the core challenges in the fight against crime were. They expressed concern at the number of known gang leaders and members who possessed legal firearms that had been obtained by corrupt means through the SAPS Central Firearms Registry. They wanted to know what protection had been offered to police officers who had been killed for their firearms, and if police villages for law enforcement officers to reside in had ever been considered, as that would prevent them having to live in the same communities as the perpetrators they policed.

Members also asked what the successes and failures had been with the army deployment to the hotspot areas; whether the national SAPS could transfer competencies like the disposal of firearms and the test of DNA evidence to the provincial SAPS; how the CoCT’s organogram for safety and security was linked to its supporting role; to what extent the rural safety plan overlapped or fed into the SAPS safety plans for districts, and what actions SAPS had undertaken regarding the poaching of marine resources.

SAPS was also probed about the ratio of arrests to convictions, and why there were many discrepancies with cases that did not end up before the courts; what had been done by the three spheres of government to ensure that the SAPS was adequately resourced with CCTV cameras to aid in its detection and investigation of crimes; how informers were identified for the hotspot areas; and what the level of coordination was between the SAPS and other branches like Crime Intelligence.

SAPS revealed that the biggest challenge in fighting gangsterism in the province was the fact that community members protected the gangs because the gangs provided an alternative governance and economy. As a result, community members attacked the police when they entered their areas to arrest gangs. If the state could provide indigent people with their necessities, then gangs would not be able to prey on them. Another challenge was that the illegal firearms had been obtained through corruption at the Central Firearms Registry, where sports licences had been issued, giving the perpetrators the ability to purchase in a single transaction an unlimited amount of ammunition that exceeded 10 000 rounds. However, in January, the amnesty initiative had led to the destruction of 3 000 firearms as part of firearm control.

SAPS said the Anti-Gang Unit had project investigations which had identified specific targets for priority focus, which included marine crimes as well. There were ongoing abalone operations which were integrated with coastal marine and the rural stations along the seaboard.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks

The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and reminded Members about the rules of engagement for the virtual platform. He asked Members to introduce themselves. He said the method of engagement was extremely fluid due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In taking various precautions, the hybrid model of engagement had been implemented.

He had received an apology from Adv Albert Fritz, Member of the Executive Council (MEC), Western Cape Department of Community Safety (DCS).

He asked the delegates from the South African Police Service (SAPS) to introduce themselves, adding that the Committee was delighted that Maj Gen Thembisile Patekile, Acting Provincial Commissioner, Western Cape, was present, as well as the Deputy Commissioners.

The Chairperson said the Standing Committee was meeting to discuss gang-related crime. To be discussed was the investigation and crime prevention measures implemented to save God's citizens in the province, especially those who lived in gang-ravaged communities. The Committee was acutely aware that gang-related issues destroyed the fabric of society. Recalling the State of the Province Address (SOPA) in 2020, he said there had been a known drug house 200 meters away from where the SOPA had taken place. It would have taken Wayde van Niekerk, South African sprinter, just 20 seconds to run from the venue the address had taken place in, to the known drug house. That illustrated the issue.

The Committee understood that the SAPS, the City of Cape Town and the DCS all played a role, but added that safety was everyone's responsibility. The Committee wanted to foster a collaborative approach in order to deal with the issues. It also wanted to carry out its oversight mandate.

The Chairperson welcomed Members and key stakeholders that watched online via the streaming sites YouTube and Microsoft Teams.

Police Commissioner’s overview

Maj Gen Patekile understood and accepted the fact that there were gang-related incidents that took place mostly in the metro. Some police stations had seen a decline in incidents. However, as one moved from one end of the city to the other, the activity spiked up again and one incident could result in four to six people getting killed, as had recently occurred in Mfuleni during the past week. The SAPS had been deployed to those areas and responded aggressively, while not forgetting the other stations that had been problematic for all the years that he had been in the Western Cape.

He said there was an Anti-Gang Strategy that had been nationally and provincially approved. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, some parts of the campaign -- like the social awareness campaigns -- could not take place because of social distancing. Innovative ideas were being considered and a few campaigns had been conducted. The challenge required the involvement of everyone in the community. The focus would be placed on the youth who were the future. Primary schools and Grade R should also be invested in, as a long term approach.

Briefing by SAPS

Maj Gen Andre Lincoln, Head: Anti-Gang Unit, Western Cape SAPS gave the presentation.

He said that due to an increase in gang violence in the Western Cape, the Anti-Gang Unit was established in November 2018. The aim of the unit was to dislodge and continuously disable gangs in identified areas. That included the disabling of the illicit economy and criminal governance of gangs, as well as drug and firearm supply lines.

The following police stations had been identified in terms of the anti-gangsterism strategy as hotspot areas for gang violence, as well as crimes associated with gangs:

Athlone, Atlantis, Bishop Lavis, Bellville South, Belhar, Cloetesville, Delft, Elsies River, Gans Bay, Grassy Park, Hermanus, Hout Bay, Kensington, Kuilsrivier, Kleinvlei, Kraaifontein, Lentegeur, Macassar, Manenberg, Muizenberg, Mitchells Plain, Mfuleni, Ocean View, Philippi, Paarl East, Ravensmead, Steenberg, Strand, Strandfontein, Woodstock and Worcester.

Focused operations were conducted by those stations on a weekly basis.

He explained that the following operational concepts were used to address gang violence within the identified gang stations:

  • Intelligence approach
  • Visible policing approach
  • Detection approach
  • Community mobilisation

The intelligence structures involved in the combating of gang violence were:

  • The Intelligence Coordinating Committee (ICC), which consisted of the State Security Agency (SSA), SAPS Crime Intelligence and Military Intelligence;
  • Intelligence analysis and coordination, which involved compiling crime threat analysis and the identification of hotspot areas; and
  • Intelligence collection, which involved the collection and verification of identified threats, the provision of tactical intelligence, the recruitment of informers, and the profiling of persons of interest in order to compile a database of persons involved or associated with gang violence

Maj Gen Lincoln explained that the visible policing approach included:

  • A response to intelligence;
  • Visible and targeted patrols in hotspot areas identified by intelligence;
  • Rapid response to incidents in progress, as well as the stabilisation of situations;
  • Targeted actions to seize illegal firearms and ammunition, contraband, drugs and dangerous weapons;
  • Targeting of known gang leaders and members of gangs who possessed legal firearms; and
  • Assisting detectives and Crime Intelligence in the execution of medium to high risk search and seizure warrants.

The detection approach involved:

  • Implementing project investigations in order to address gang groupings and high flyers;
  • Liaising with the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and Customs and Excise, in order to freeze and seize assets belonging to perpetrators of gang violence;
  • Targeting repeat offenders in hotspot areas, including bail applications and a cold case management approach;
  • Opposing bail for perpetrators involved in gang violence;
  • National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)-led investigations to ensure a speedy and successful prosecution of perpetrators involved in acts of gang violence; and
  • The investigation and tracking of firearms used in committing acts of gang violence.

Finally, community mobilisation included the mobilisation of communities in affected hotspot areas to take part in partnerships and projects like Neighbourhood Watches and Street Committees, to reduce gang violence. There would also be projects targeted at youths at risk, which would include marching and drill programmes, sporting clinics and safer schools projects.

The COVID-19 lockdown regulations posed a challenge by hampering the successful administration of projects.

Briefing by City of Cape Town

Mr Robbie Roberts, Director: Operational Coordination, City of Cape Town (CoCT), represented the city’s Safety and Security Directorate.

He said gang violence was one of the main priorities for the CoCT. The SAPS had the mandate to fight and combat the scourge of gang violence in all the areas in the middle of the city. Cape Town played its supportive role in the form of the Metro Traffic Police, law enforcement, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), and the Strategic Information Unit, in order to do away with gang violence. The City’s integrative and joint approach went hand in hand with the operational approach of the SAPS. He emphasized that gang violence was a priority for the CoCT in order to secure the communities and for the youth who needed to attend education facilities.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Roberts, and said he was delighted to hear of the integration work from the planning process to the reporting back, because it was indeed needed to foster those valuable inter-stakeholder relationships that worked towards improving safety.

Deployment of law enforcement officers to crime ridden areas

Mr Roberts detailed the operational approach by the CoCT to gangsterism. The mission was to ensure effective and efficient crime prevention initiatives aimed at the enhancement of community safety and to provide security for visitors and property, whilst building the reputation of the City as a world leader. There would also be a continuation of joint policing efforts between the Cape Town Metropolitan Police Department (CTMPD) Gang and Drug Task Team, and the SAPS Anti Gang Unit.

He explained the current operational approach by the City of Cape Town involving the law enforcement advanced plan (LEAP) officers. There were 1 000 new Learner Law Enforcement Officers (LLEO) for three years. The scope of the work included the provision of all supporting requirements for the successful deployment and operation of the LLEOs. Required work packages included recruitment, training, deployment and integration, vehicles and equipment -- firearms, computers, radios, emergency policing and incident command (EPIC) devices, etc. – facilities and financial considerations.

Mr Roberts said that for phase one, the six priority areas for the initial LEAP officer deployment were:

  • Klipfontein/ Mitchells Plain – Hanover Park, Mitchells Plain & Nyanga
  • Tygerberg/ Northern – Delft, Bishop Lavis
  • Khayelitsha/ Eastern – Khayelitsha

Phase two included:

  • Klipfontein/ Mitchells Plain – Gugulethu
  • Tygerberg/ Northern – Kraaifontein & Mfuleni
  • Khayelitsha/ Eastern – Harare
  • Southern/ Western - Atlantis

The way forward would involve:

  • The roll out of Phase 2;
  • An additional 500 members deployed to the next five priority areas;
  • The signing of 250 LLEO contracts tomorrow;
  • The deployment and integration link to command and control;
  • In-service training;
  • Recruitment and training of another 250 LLEOs;
  • Appointment and signing of the next 250 by 1 July;
  • Their deployment and integration link to command and control;
  • In-service training;
  • Financial considerations.

Department of Community Safety briefing

Adv Yashina Pillay, Head of Department (HOD), Western Cape DCS, said the Department had worked very closely with both the SAPS as well as the City of Cape Town to jointly address the safety challenges in the province. The DCS had assisted with the development of the provincial response to the national anti-gangsterism strategy. All other role players in the province were involved in developing the provincial response, and their input was considered. The DCS was also the co-lead with the SAPS in the Anti-Gang Priority Committee.

Adv Pillay described the provincial safety plan (PSP), and explained that the violence prevention shift took into account factors that that affected the individual, their relationships, the community and society at large, and how all four overlapped.

The strategic approach to safety under the PSP included reducing both gang violence and gender-based violence (GBV). Safe and cohesive communities would be fostered through enhanced capacity and effective policing and law enforcement, increased safety of public spaces through urban design, and strengthened individual, relational and societal social cohesion against violence.

The approach to the recovery plan safety priority included collaborative governance, evidence-based interventions, area-based implementation and a surveillance, or data-led, approach.

Adv Pillay explained that the model of collaborative governance involved an institutional design and facilitative leadership. The collaborative process began with trust building and a commitment to the process. It also required a shared understanding of a clear mission, a common problem and an identification of common values. It also entailed intermediate outcomes and face-to-face dialogue.

She confirmed the prioritised areas for the LEAP officer deployments, which had been outlined by Mr Roberts earlier. Additionally, the area-based teams (ABT) methodology would be based on data-led evidence to guide interventions. The ABT would ensure coordination and monitoring of all interventions and the operationalisation of service delivery interventions. The local ABTs would bring law enforcement and violence prevention together, and was well placed to incorporate the other priorities of the recovery strategy.


The Chairperson said that over the years, several residents had lost their lives due to gang violence. Many communities were traumatised and felt the pain. The Committee also felt for members of the SAPS and law enforcement officers who had lost their lives in the line of duty. It would be zooming in on several of the matters raised as it conducted its oversight work. He opened the floor for a round of questions.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) asked the SAPS about the Western Cape Anti-Gang Unit, and wanted to know how many members belonged to it. He referred to Maj Gen Lincoln’s indications that police stations had been identified for the anti-gangsterism strategy, and wanted to know if those police stations were more resourced than other police stations, or whether they were dependent solely on the Western Cape Anti-Gang Unit.

Referring to the targeting of known gang leaders and members of gangs that possessed legal firearms, he asked how they had obtained those firearms, because they must have been processed through the SAPS. The Committee could not understand how the ammunition was available and was fired daily. Was there control on ammunition per individual? He asked Maj Gen Lincoln to elaborate on that.

Regarding the LEAP officers that were deployed, were they adequately trained for the job? The main task of law enforcement officers was by-law enforcement. Where did they get the additional powers in order to have all those units? Were they adequately trained? He requested statistics for future presentations, because there could be a lot of arrests but there was a need to know the conviction rate for the arrests in all the different areas. He felt the biggest problem was that many people were arrested, but few were successfully convicted.

He had just heard Adv Pillay say there would be a rolling out to the non-metro areas. He knew the city had those specific areas, but he noticed that the SAPS had already identified Paarl East and Worcester, and he wanted to know why the DCS was not already in those areas as opposed to rolling out additional LEAP officers in the Klipfontein,Tygerberg and Khayelitsha areas. Why had the DCS not proactively moved out to the areas identified by the SAPS?

The Chairperson asked Members to stick to the time limit of three minutes, as there would be a second round of questions.

Mr G Bosman (DA) appreciated the hard work the men and women on the frontlines put in. His question was around the Anti-Gang Unit and the work it conducted across the province. He asked how active the Anti-Gang Unit was in areas other than the problematic areas, like the metros. How active was it in the more rural communities, where gangsters had transferred themselves? This had been witnessed with the cocaine found in Saldanha, and with the gangs that had formed in rural towns. What was the relationship?

He also asked what protection had been offered for police officers, as many had been killed for guns. What had been done to ensure that officers were safe and protected?

Mr Bosman asked what the failures and successes had been with the army deployment to the hotspot areas, and what lessons had been learned. He said that was an activity that should be looked at in more strategic detail.

He asked for a detailed written answer on the current process of disposing illegal firearms in the Western Cape, how that was linked to the national system, and how many guns had been handed in for disposal.

What was the City of Cape Town’s relationship with the surrounding municipalities in terms of collaboration? He commented that it worked wonderfully with the SAPS and the DCS, but wondered how it worked with other municipalities.

He also asked the City of Cape Town what the organogram was for safety and security, and how that linked to the supporting role that it played, specifically as it moved towards focusing on its core mandate.

Mr A Van der Westhuizen (DA) explained that he was the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, which therefore informed the angle of his questions. In posing his first question, he said that Committee had been informed that the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (DOA) was responsible for the drafting of a rural safety plan. He asked to be informed to what extent there had been cooperation with the role players presently before the Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport. He also asked if the DCS and the SAPS would be involved in the drafting of this rural safety plan, and to what extent it overlapped or fed into the safety plans for districts from the SAPS.

Secondly, he built on Mr Christians’ point about rural gangs, and asked what actions were being undertaken regarding gang activity in places like Paarl and Stellenbosch.

Lastly, with his Environmental Affairs hat on, he asked what actions had been undertaken regarding the poaching of marine resources, and how this was linked to drug peddling and the gangs, or if those poaching operations were not linked to what was normally understood as gangs.

Mr M Kama (ANC) said a lot of effort had been put in, and everyone had mentioned a data-led approach, but he wanted to understand the real challenges encountered in fighting gangsterism. He noted that Khayelitsha was one of the top murder precincts, but as early as 2015 there had been commission that had pronounced on the interventions to be implemented in Khayelitsha. He understood that there were some aspects that had not been implemented, so he wanted to know what was not being done, or if the gangsters were more advanced than all three entities involved.

Addressing the SAPS, he said he understood that there was a district model of policing due to start on 1 April. He asked how it would impact the current operations, because he felt that a change to district policing meant structural changes in how the SAPS policed. How would it affect the Anti-Gang Unit in its fight against gangsterism in the province?

Addressing the CoCT, he registered with the Chairperson that he did not appreciate receiving a report 30 minutes before the presentation, especially if it were such an extensive presentation. In future, he would appreciate receiving it in advance.

He observed that several arrests had been made, which had been mentioned in the different slides. He thus wanted to get a sense of the conviction rate in relation to the arrests made, because it was one thing to celebrate an arrest, but it was another thing to secure a conviction which made sure that someone paid for the crime that had been committed.

He had a question for the DCS, which was perhaps linked to the question he had asked the City of Cape Town. He referred to a recent incident in which five children had been shot in Mitchells Plain and an interaction he had with Brigadier Cass Goolam, the Mitchells Plain Station Commander. He had specifically asked Brig Goolam if he had enough resources, to which Brig Goolum had responded in the affirmative, adding that the province had sent a team in to assist. Brig Goolam had then said the Mitchells Plan SAPS had followed many leads, but were going to look for people who had cameras in their homes. Therefore, Brig Goolam had inadvertently raised the inability to identify unknown suspects as a challenge. The lack of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras was a challenge. Mr Kama mentioned how the City of Cape Town had referred to private companies, but wanted to know what it and the DCS had done to ensure that there were CCTV cameras to assist the work of the SAPS in investigating and preventing crime.

Ms L Botha (DA) based her question on the focus operations that the SAPS had spoken about in its presentation. She asked what the frequency of the focus operations conducted in the identified hotspot areas was. Had they occurred simultaneously in all areas, or was it just in some identified hotspot areas?

She asked the Chairperson if she could pose a follow-up question to the SAPS, based on its response to the question Mr Christian had posed about the Anti-Gang Unit.

She asked the SAPS to speak on the number of informers in the identified hotspot areas.

The Chairperson asked the SAPS for more information about the compilation of the crime threat analysis, especially in relation to gang violence.

On the drug houses and clandestine drug labs, he said the 2019/20 annual report stated there were close to 2 000 drug houses in the Western Cape. How many had been closed in the last year, or what steps had been taken to close them? He referred to the story he had related earlier on about being 200 meters away from a drug house, and noted how three generations had bought drugs from that very same place, meaning the grandfather, father and son. That was clearly a problem linked to gangsterism.

He asked how the SAPS detection approach to combating gangsterism was affected by the DNA backlog, and how it affected its approach.

Lastly, the Chairperson asked the CoCT to speak more directly about the integrated approach with the SAPS in terms of those operations in order to get a broader understanding.

He referred to Mr Kama’s point about the SAPS and under-resourcing, and asked for the figures on the SAPS to population ratio. He had been heartbroken to read a news article in which one gang claimed it had an estimated 10 000 members in the Western Cape. Growing up in Mitchells Plain, he knew that gang was probably not even one of the top five gangs in the Western Cape. He asked for information on the staff complement that the SAPS had in the Western Cape.

Mr R Mackenzie (DA) wanted to understand the coordination between the police Crime Intelligence unit and the SAPS. He said it was unfortunate the unit was not what it ought to be. What was the coordination in dealing with some of the issues, because it was known that some gangs were repeat offenders? He added that some of the gang leaders were repeat offenders, and asked how they were working together to ensure those high-fliers were brought to book.

Mr Mackenzie’s second question was also directed to the top leadership in the SAPS. What was the coordination between the SARS, the HAWKS and some of the high-fliers? He said some of the highfliers owned massive nightclubs in Cape Town and lived in fancy houses, and asked why the SAPS had not worked with the SARS to bring those individuals to justice. What coordination was in place to ensure people whose lifestyles did not match their income were flagged by the SARS, as such coordination should be expected from the SARS, the SAPS and the City of Cape Town. How could someone afford to buy a house for R5 million in cash without the transaction being flagged by the COCT’s systems?

He wanted to know when the SAPS in the Western Cape would have some stability. He appreciated the work conducted by the Anti-Gang Unit, but there had been confusion involving suspended individuals and the Head of the Crime Intelligence Unit. In his opinion, that had massive implications for what happened on the ground. He made it clear that he was not passing judgment, as that was not the Committee’s responsibility, but he wanted a sense of stability so that staff members could get on with doing their jobs. Was there an understanding from the national police hierarchy that it needed to appoint a stable SAPS because if that was present then gangsterism could be dealt with effectively. Otherwise, all the work conducted on the ground would not make a difference if the top structures were not sorted out.

SAPS’s response

Maj Gen Patekile answered Mr Mackenzie’s last question. He said it had been published in the newspaper that Gen Khehla Sitole, the SAPS National Commissioner, and management had been working hard to stabilise the Western Cape. The SAPS in the Western Cape was operational and focused on its core mandate, which was to bring safety to the Western Cape, and it dealt with that only. The other issues Gen Sitole dealt with were within the National Commission.

Maj Gen Jeremy Vearey, Deputy Provincial Commissioner: Crime Detection, Western Cape, referred to gangsters’ possession of licensed firearms, and said they had been obtained through corruption in the Central Firearms Registry (CFR) system, beginning with the station level Designated Firearm Officers (DFOs) and continued right down to people inside the CFR who manipulated the system at Head Office. He said he would explain it without going into detail, as he was a state witness in the same matter.

From 2 to 5 August 2021, a trial would begin in the High Court in which there were 21 co-accused, 28 gang members and two police officers from the CFR in Pretoria. There would also be some implicated police officers from the Olifantsfontein Police Station in Gauteng. There were 109 charges, and it was matter that had begun when he was the station commander at Mitchells Plain. He had searched gangsters in the area who had boasted about having legal firearms which had not come through the police station, as required by law. It had then been established that they had come through the Olifantsfontein Police Station. After that investigation, it had been established that everything from the registry, right through to the computer system at the CFR, had been fraudulently transacted to create the impression that the 21 accused professed to live in Olifantsfointein.

That was how they got the licences and the type of licenses they got was of great concern, because they were sports licences. This meant they could purchase in a single transaction an unlimited amount of ammunition for the weapon -- well in excess of 10 000 rounds -- because they were used for sports purposes and practice. Analysis had revealed the time when several gang leaders had made similar purchases, which had led to the tracing of the gun shops. The SAPS had detected much of the new ammunition discovered in gang fights through the newness of the shells. There had been a sudden trend detected, of firing many rounds and a changing of magazines, which was totally unusual. After having detected this, the SAPS had been able to go more broadly and investigate where a large amount of shots had been fired from a single firearm, and then investigate backwards.

In a nutshell, there was clearly corruption and it extended from the station level DFO right through to the CFR. The licences were issued in a matter of five to six days for six fairly expensive weapons at a time. An elaborate network of gun dealers who accepted falsified firearm competency certificates were involved, and had also been arrested. The case had become a national investigation. Security firms were also implicated and had been investigated. In some cases, they had acquired 50 licensed firearms in a week, which had occurred in the Western Cape and Gauteng. That matter had led to the arrest of brigadiers, station commanders, and had involved a similar modus operandi.

Maj Gen Lincoln answered the question about the number of members in the Anti-Gang Unit. He said there was a total of 191, of which 140 were uniformed members, 45 were detective members and six were support members.

On the focused operations, he said the SAPS had project investigations where specific targets had been identified, and the investigations focused on those specific targets. Thus, whether it was the uniformed people or the detectives, everything around that particular area would focus on the target that was being investigated.

Maj Gen Lincoln said the operations had been moved into the Overberg and Worcester clusters. In Worecester there was serious gang activity with the JCY Gang, and some of the 28’s in the Overberg area around the abalone industry, which the Anti-Gang Unit was also working on.

Maj Gen Mpumelelo Manci, Deputy Provincial Commissioner, Western Cape, responded on the protection offered to police officers, and said they were issued with firearms to protect themselves. They also had training on legal principles and how to shoot and use firearms to protect themselves. They were operationally ready with service pistols and ammunition if threatened with death, which they were required to discharge within the framework of the law. He added that if there was a threat to a member of the police from gangs, a risk and threat assessment would be conducted by Intelligence and verified, and if was found that a member required protection, it was granted accordingly. That would be reviewed over a period and the threat would be neutralised. A police safety committee considered the issues of police safety in that regard.

Adding onto Maj Gen Vearey’s responses on firearms control, Maj Gen Manci said there was an amnesty initiative, and he was happy to report that 17 863 firearms had been received. The amnesty initiative had been marketed and the community had responded. In January, 3 000 firearms had been taken to Pretoria to be destroyed. This was part of firearm control. An audit of that had been conducted.

He said the SAPS was part and parcel of rural safety, as part of the national and provincial strategy. Its stations were part of the rural safety plan, and there were monthly meetings conducted in the province with all role players.

The SAPS had given feedback on rhino poaching, and there had been no rhino poaching since 2015. However, there were ongoing abalone operations which were integrated with coastal marine, and the rural stations along the seaboard also worked to deal with poaching.

Maj Gen Patekile answered Mr Kama’s question about the problems with tackling gang violence. He said the community members protected the gangs because there was an alternative governance and economy which the gangs provided. If the state could provide indigent people with their necessities, then gangs would not be able to prey on them. That was why the community members attacked the police when they entered their communities to arrest gangs. The police first had to deal with the attacks from the community members, as they threw stones at them.

He had addressed the findings of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry, and the police had met many of the matters they had to address. The LEAP officers had been a response to that Inquiry. He also did not want to blame the COVID-19 pandemic, but the interactions with the communities had decreased since March 2020, so loud hailers and local radio stations could not be utilised. Alternative methods of communication were being considered because if crime took place at the street level, then the communities in that street took ownership of their streets through community patrols and ensured that the youth were redirected to an alternative role modelling environment.

In response to Mr Mackenzie’s question about tracking big spenders, Maj Gen Patekile said Mr Bheki Cele, the Minister of Police, had announced that through recently completed projects, some big guns had been taken down and taken to court. Some of the projects had taken two to five years to complete, and the AFU, SARS and other role-players had been involved in that process. A challenge was that the drug houses were quickly revamped after each arrest, which illustrated the Chairperson’s example of generational drug use. It would be good to get that information in writing so it could be investigated.

In response to Mr Van der Westhuizen’s question about the poaching of marine resources, he said everyone was needed to work together. In the Overberg, there had been an improvement in the community working with the police. There had been many successes.

Regarding the use CCTV cameras, he said the way to go was the “safer city” approach with a “smart city.” That had started in the Western Cape, but it needed to be revived. If the roads were wired with CCTV cameras, then many people could be placed through artificial intelligence (AI) so that information could be gathered, as most of the time no one at the scene wanted to talk. He emphasised that the safer city approach would work, as the use of CCTV cameras and “shot spotters” had worked in other areas. That information would be fed to a command centre where all stakeholders worked together to prevent crime and prove cases in court.

CoCT’s response

Mr Roberts said the LEAP officers had been trained for the roles of peace officers, as well as traffic wardens. He gave information about their powers, and said declaration of a peace officer was in terms of section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) 51 of 1977, while traffic wardens were appointed under section 3(1) of the Road Traffic Act 29 of 1989. The other powers came from section 19 and Chapter Two of the CPA, which gave powers on search warrants, entering of premises, seizures and the disposal of property connected with offences. Section 23 of the CPA dealt with the search of arrested persons and the seizure of articles. Section 44 of the CPA also gave powers to execute a warrant. He had a presentation regarding all the powers of law enforcement officers that had been appointed as peace officers which he could make available to the Committee.

The peace officers were trained for three months, and they also had in-service training linked to that. They had peace officer and traffic warden training, as well as by-law enforcement training offered to them. The fourth area was the tactical training, where they were trained to use firearms. They also received training on ‘stop and approach’, radio etiquette and fitness. There had been a request to the SAPS to assist with crowd control training in the wake of the Marikana Report, which would prepare them to deal with protest action. On in-service training, there were various specialised units within law enforcement, and the SAPS trained them about liquor and second-hand goods.

On the City of Cape Town’s relationship with surrounding municipalities, Mr Roberts said it had a relationship with the municipalities on the borders. The other day there had been major problems with land invasions within the Grabouw area, and there had been a request by that municipality for the City of Cape Town to assist. It had assisted as far as its resources had allowed.

On the safety and security organogram within the CoCT, he and Mr Vincent Botto, Acting Executive Director, coordinated all the operational issues between the metro police, the traffic police, the VIP Unit and the SIU, who accounted to him directly. Those were the policing agencies within Safety and Security. There was also disaster management, fire and rescue and the provincial command council (PCC) as part of the safety structure.

Mr Roberts said the City of Cape Town was in communication with the SAPS with regard to the training of its rural safety unit under the rural safety plan. Meetings had already been coordinated and attended.

On marine resources, there was the Marine Unit within the law enforcement environment, and it formed part of the integrated approach with boarder policing. The City of Cape Town also had its own mandate about by-law enforcement in order to protect marine resources along the coast.

Mr Roberts apologised to Mr Kama and the Committee for having provided the presentation late.

He referred to the integrated approach with the SAPS, and said that the City of Cape Town was a member of the Provincial Joint Coordinating Forum (PJCF), of which Maj Gen Patekile was the chairperson. The CoCT served on the priority committee that had been established in terms of the PJCF. It was also part of other committees that had to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Anti-Gang Unit, the Refugee Exit Plan, and the Core Command Group for integrated planning. It also fulfilled its oversight role with the DCS. Letters were sent to Maj Gen Patekile about illegal firearms and liquor for arrests to be made.

He said that technology had to be utilised to fight crime. The City had considered how to address the CCTV camera situation in a different way by identifying all the camera footprints in the gang areas, and every incident detected that was a crime was communicated immediately to SAPS, for the police to be deployed. The footprint was also applied to land invasions and in the seven priority areas to detect crime and to communicate with SAPS. The camera footprints had also been communicated to each of the station commanders in the LEAP areas. There was a link between the footprints, the SAPS and the various stations to catch those criminals. It was also linked to the safer city approach, and the freeway management systems had also been made use of.

In response to Mr Mackenzie, Mr Roberts said a workshop about extortion had been attended, together with the SAPS and other role-players. The CoCT had indicated to the SAPS that all its systems, such as those dealing with housing and accounts, could be tapped into by SAPS for information purposes. It offered all of its CCTV footage to the SAPS crime intelligence unit to analyse.

DCS’s response

Adv Pillay responded to Mr Christians, and said the DCS’s priority for implementation in the 11 areas had been the murder rate. All the murder stations were currently located within the Cape metropolitan area. The DCS had engaged with the district and local municipalities for their input, as the success of any interventions in those spaces depended upon their support, leadership and guidance. The SAPS had been requested to provide further information to guide the DCS’s engagements with the municipalities so the challenges faced could be considered when the area-based teams were set up. The area-based teams approach was not confined to a specific area, but the Department wanted to set them up elsewhere as so many areas required attention for safety purposes.

She responded to Mr Kama that the DCS’s engagements had followed the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry. There were weekly meetings that focused on the Khayelitsha district and were attended by the SAPS and other role-players within the Western Cape government, like the CoCT and community-based structures like the Khayelitsha Development Forum. The DCS worked collaboratively with all stakeholders, and she believed the area-based teams approach that flowed out of the Inquiry would also address some of the key challenges in the area. The urban design and social cohesion technical work groups would further complement the work of law enforcement officers and would take forward the recommendations of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry.

On the CCTV cameras, Adv Pillay said that during the implementation of the alcohol-related harms reduction project, the DCS had set up cameras in Khayelitsha that had proved effective in deterring crime. To build on this experience was to have both the SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to use the footage for successful investigations and convictions. The DCS considered how best it could utilise technology in its support of the SAPS to fight crime.

Other responses

Maj Gen Vearey answered the question about the use of DNA. He said that speaking as a detective, the forensics would not be able to achieve the pace they were used to for the foreseeable future. The nature of the challenges was two-fold. For the past three to four years, there had been disruptions in the supply of the chemical reagent required to conduct the analysis. That had meant that as detectives in the courts, there would be no results available. There were serious backlogs due to the constant disruption. The second challenge involved a contract dispute between the Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) and the SAPS, which involved the Property Control and Exhibit Management (PCEM) system. It also caused major backlogs which was more frightful, because when evidence was presented in court which involved DNA or other samples, then the integrity of the chain of possession of the evidence while it was in custody had to be proved. Everywhere the evidence had been explained, and the whole system was managed electronically by the PCEM system so it was paperless. The integrity proved in court was paperless and depended on the PCEM system. The PCEM system had been switched off for a considerable period of time, so the detective would have to revert to a manual way of proving continuity of possession of the evidence or re-investigate entirely. Those were the practical issues with evidence managed under the PCEM system, and that applied to all evidence, which included DNA, firearms and all evidence. Those challenges could not be fixed by detectives or by theSAPS in the province, as it was a national supply chain issue.

Maj Gen Patekile said the restructuring did not empower the SAPS. It was aimed at efficiently re-directing resources where they were needed. There had been an announcement about restructuring, and there was going to be media release. It would be for the national SAPS to announce it.

Further discussion

The Chairperson said the matter was concerning, and the Committee had an appointment with the Forensic Science Laboratory to conduct oversight. He appreciated the frank and open answers.

Mr Bosman said he was encouraged that the SAPS Western Cape leadership had looked at the use of technology in for the form of cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) in the fight against crime. He asked what equipment and CCTV cameras the SAPS currently owned and operated on its own, outside of what belonged to the provincial government, the City of Cape Town and private security companies.

He said that if the South African government did not own its forensic database and there was a dispute, how could the Committee trust the SAPS to effectively manage digital policing when it did not have that capacity?

He also asked what capacity currently existed within Crime Intelligence to actually monitor and analyse the footage the municipalities had made available to them.

Mr Mackenzie said it was clear from his earlier questions that either there was no coordination that had taken place, or it was not working because he had not got a clear response as to what was happening. It was not working, because the highfliers still roamed the streets of Cape Town.

He said the national supply chain management (SCM) was affecting thousands of cases in the Western Cape, and he asked the Western Cape SAPS what its plan was going forward. National was not functional, and as Mr Vearey had said, the cases had to be manually redone, so he wanted to know how long that would take.

The second part to his question related to the recent reports on GBV. Of the 50 000 cases, 30 dockets were not at court. He wanted to know what had happened, because cases had been struck off the roll, and he felt this needed to be a discussion in itself, because 20 dockets had been incomplete, and this had affected victims. They were very serious cases that involved rape, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and murder, and he wanted to know why the detectives or investigating officers could not get the matter to court.

The Chairperson said the court watching brief was definitely on the programme.

Mr Kama appreciated the responses, which he felt were good. He asked a follow-up question about the conviction rates, because he wanted to know if the right things were being done to address crime, as lives were lost daily. He referred to the recent shootings in the Mfuleni Local Municipality, were six people had been shot dead in three separate incidents. What had the responsiveness of the SAPS been, as Mfuleni was part of the places identified as part of the Anti-Gang Unit. He understood the safer city approach, but wanted to know what could be done with the current resources.

He asked the DCS whether there was a plan to roll out more CCTV cameras, since they worked. The DCS safety plan spoke about halving the murder rate over ten years, yet in year two structures were still being established and the murder rate was increasing in some places.

Mr P Marais (FF+) complimented the hard working efforts of the SAPS who did everything in their power to combat crime. He commented that they were hampered by poor prosecutions and cases being lost because the cases presented did not have enough evidence for convictions. He asked what cooperation there was between the SAPS and the NPA. Could it be improved? In the American system, the prosecutors were involved in investigations, especially murders and rapes. In the South African system, folders got lost, poor evidence was given to prosecutors, and criminals went free because some police officers could be bribed. He asked if an internal investigation was required. Did the SAPS require a “watch dog” to watch over their own members? Some police officers were prone to taking bribes so that dockets could be misplaced.

He asked how well the police officers and detectives were trained, and where the training was received. Were they fully prepared to investigate intricate murder and hijacking cases? What type of people were recruited to be police officers? Could people who were friends with gangsters apply to become officers in order to protect their gang members?

The Chairperson thanked the SAPS for the open and honest answers about the DNA. What Maj Gen Vearey had said was concerning, so he asked that the Committee receive information on private laboratories to assist and expedite cases. Had the feasibility and validity of that avenue been considered?

The Chairperson also asked about the excess workload carried by detectives, and asked for an update on that.

He told Maj Gen Patekile that he appreciated the day’s engagement, and asked for a commitment from the SAPS that it would get rid of corruption. He knew it was difficult but, considering the statements by Maj Gen Vearey about the CFR system, it was difficult for citizens to trust the institution to keep them safe. The Chairperson commended the SAPS for their hard work and dedication.

He also asked Maj Gen Manci about the firearms that had been taken, and referred to a report from Hanover Park, where a gun had been taken from a suspect which had received wide media coverage. Was it too much of a reach to consider an incinerator in the Western Cape for drugs and firearms to be destroyed, i as there were potentially corrupt elements when they were transported out of the province to be destroyed.

Maj Gen Patekile replied that the incineration of firearms in the Western Cape had been on the cards for years, but a follow-up would be submitted to the national SAPS in writing.

On the privatisation of forensics, he said money had been sourced the previous week for the next four months to address the backlog, and the laboratories had begun their work. There was a possibility that a lot of the backlog would be recovered in the next four months, with crimes against women and children as the priorities.

He said the question on coordination had been answered earlier on. He repeated that some cases took a long time, spanning up to more than five years to finalise. Ultimately, many of the suspects had been flagged.

Maj Gen Patekile said that 30 to 35 firearms were seized from the streets weekly. These included firearms that had been lost and those taken from police officers. The numbers on the firearms were etched off so it took up to a year to determine the serial number required to trace them.

Maj Gen Vearey said the workload faced by detectives would always be a challenge and in police structures all over the world, the detectives were always the fewest compared to the visible sides of the police. It was a reality that the workload of the detectives was controlled by the public who committed the crimes. He said urban expansion was a challenge, and explained that urbanisation meant that the SAPS would not be able to adjust the number of detectives to correspond with the growth of an area like Elsies River, which was not a closed area like Cape Town or Claremont, where spatial growth might be limited. The same applied to business expansions. Realistically speaking, the need would never be met. It was addressed through structure and how some crimes are prioritised, like those against women and children. Specialised units were being established, and the Murder and Robbery Unit, the Taxi Violence Unit and the Specialised Drug Unit would be reinstated to expand their capabilities with the signing off of the new structure. It was in the implementation stage, and would be institutionalised in the SAPS by 1 April. It was a welcome return.

He said the detective training in South Africa was world-accredited and was regarded as having an extremely high standard. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the SAPS had suffered as all the annual training which would take place three to four times a year had to be cancelled, as it could not be conducted online due to its practical nature.

On the destruction of firearms, he said he had avoided the Hanover Park case, which involved the same modus operandi he had mentioned above, with corrupt police officers being involved. The firearms could be destroyed only in Pretoria. The matter was part of some Parliamentary debates, and the politicians would come to an agreement about the best option. He admitted it was necessary to study the models in other countries, as South Africa was the only country where all firearms were licensed by the police service and also destroyed by the same policing institution. The institutional architecture of how firearms were licensed should be reconsidered, which was a policy issue for Parliament to consider.

On the cooperation between the SAPS and the NPA, Maj Gen Vearey said the police dockets were presented to them, and with highfliers and more complex cases, the NPA was consulted during the investigative phase. The model with the HAWKS was not unique to them, but the scale and case load of the SAPS was much higher, which was a challenge. The specialised courts for crimes against women and children worked a bit better, and did expedite the movement of cases through them.

Regarding the conviction rate, it was clear cases failed despite how well they had been investigated and presented in court, because there was a human element and witnesses who could be bribed or have their credibility questioned. Those were some of the reasons cases failed. They could also fail because of technical reasons, such as those mentioned above about evidence and DNA samples. He said the issues were not unique to the SAPS, as 200 000 case dockets had disappeared overnight in the London Metropolitan Police. Those were the challenges that compounded how fast cases were processed through the courts and whether convictions were obtained.

On the availability of case dockets in court, he asked if the list could be provided so that they could be individually checked, and feedback would be given.

Maj Gen Vearey said he could not go into too much detail on the recent shooting that took place in Mfuleni, but the case required reconsideration about how gangs were approached. The Anti-Gang Unit was well positioned to deal with that. He said the team had been increased to investigate gangs. People with greater specialisation would be added to the team in a new structure in the SAPS, where they would be part of the organised crime component.

The Chairperson said the case dockets and reference numbers had been sent, and a reply was due on or before the end of April. This would be circulated, based on Mr Mackenzie’s question about the court watch brief.

The Chairperson said that during the meeting, he had received a message about a shooting that had taken place in Lavender Hill which the Committee had already expedited and sent to the SAPS.

Mr Roberts responded to Mr Bosman about the technology utilised, and said the CoCT had looked at the utilisation of drones in its own environment, which could assist operations. It had also utilised the Emergency Policing Incident Coordination Device, which was a cell phone device issued to each member when out in the field. Should they receive any complaints or make any arrest, they were able to load the pictures and videos of the scene on to the system, which could be downloaded by the SAPS.

Regarding the responsiveness to Mfuleni, he said the CoCT had had a discussion with the DCS the previous day about Mfuleni, and urgent interventions like LEAP deployments had been considered. He had contacted the CCTV operator who said there was only one camera in the Mfuleni area. Since it was one of the seven priority areas, Mr Roberts indicated that more funds had to be applied for in the new financial year so that more CCTV cameras could be installed in that area.

In response to Mr Marais about the recruitment of law enforcement officers, Mr Roberts said their criminal records and prints were checked with the SAPS to see if there was any criminality. There was additional scrutiny during the signing of the appointment certificate, which was how the system made sure no criminals got in.

Adv Pillay added a comment about the CCTV cameras. She said the DCS had liaised with the SAPS on the use of technology in general, but specifically in relation to cameras. The area-based teams, once fully established, would also be advising on the interventions required in a specific area to address the challenges faced, which would be data and evidence based.

Maj Gen Patekile said the SAPS did not own its own CCTV cameras, but partnered with the CoCT on the use of CCTV cameras and drones.

Mr Bosman said that some questions specifically aimed at the SAPS had not been answered. Maj Gen Patekile had answered only the last part of the question about what technology the SAPS owned, but had not answer the second part of the question about what confidence the Committee and members of the public should have in the SAPS to manage any of the tools if they were acquired.

Secondly, he asked what the capacity was within the SAPS, specifically within the Crime Intelligence Unit, to analyse, interrogate and categorise the information it received from CCTV footage, whether it belonged to a local municipality, the provincial government or a private security company. He really needed answers to those questions, because he knew there were many hard-working SAPS members, but he also knew it faced a massive human resource crisis due to the fiscal constraints and issues of corruption within the police service.

Mr Marais said there had been landmark court judgments about gang membership in 2005. Once one was convicted for belonging to a gang, then membership of that gang was illegal. He therefore wanted to know how many of those gangs that operated in the Western Cape had been declared illegal as per the court judgment, and this meant they could not recruit and one could be jailed for being a member of the gang without having been convicted of a crime. He asked how many of the gang members the SAPS could say they had caught, either because the members wore markers associated with the gang, or were known members.  He said a person could be sentenced for up to eight years.

Referring to the safety of police officers, he said there had been a lot of police killings and it hurt him to think police officers were becoming the targets of the gangs they should wipe out. He asked whether the law and courts were too lenient in sentencing people convicted of killing policemen. He described the killing of police officers as terrorism, as it was an act against the State.

In addition, he asked whether police officers should live in crime-ridden areas, or whether there should be police villages where police officers would be safe to live. That would be opposed to having a police officer living in Manenberg who also had to investigate crimes in the same area.

When screening police recruits, were petty crimes were taken into consideration, or were only serious crimes considered? He said that petty crimes led to more serious crimes.

Mr Mackenzie said it had been stated earlier that the hampering of the delivery of services in the Western Cape was due to national supply chain. Was there a suggestion that if some of the procurement services were transferred to the provincial SAPS, service delivery would be improved?

He asked what laws in the Western Cape prevented the SAPS and the City of Cape Town from doing their job effectively, and what should law makers change to enable them to do their jobs effectively.

Lastly, he asked who the head of the Western Cape Crime Intelligence Unit was.

Ms Botha asked how many informers had withdrawn from being informers, and what the reasons were. Had they been threatened or been killed, and how had the SAPS handled those cases?

She also asked how many members of the SAPS were currently being investigated, had been suspended or had cases against them pending, for colluding with gangsters.

Mr Christians recalled a Committee visit to a police station where multiple police vehicles were immobile because they had to be repaired, with no substitute vehicles, so he wanted an explanation about police vehicle patrols. He also commented that certain police stations were vulnerable because gangsters targeted them. Was this being addressed? He also asked if there were enough staff personnel to cope when some members were off sick.

The Chairperson referred to media reports on Operation Lockdown 2, and said he had submitted Parliamentary questions about it, but asked how many additional staff members had been added to the current complement. Would they remain in the province beyond the end of April, or be an additional deployment?

He also asked the SAPS if the under-resourcing towards gang violence had been addressed by national.

Mr Bosman asked the SAPS about the reorganisation of its structure and the implementation of the new organogram. He wanted to know if the changes applied to how the Western Cape’s provincial police officers interacted with the national SAPS. It had become apparent that some functions were controlled provincially while others were controlled nationally, like the forensics laboratory and the firearm destruction system.

Maj Gen Patekile said the organisational restructuring did not mean that the national functions would transfer to the provincial SAPS. He was not aware of the provincial policy, and the SAPS was a national component as provided in the Constitution.

On Operation Lockdown 2, the SAPS would submit the numbers in writing, as the numbers could not be mentioned because of security reasons. He indicated, however, that the numbers would far exceed April.

Regarding the resources at police stations, he said he could not deny that the vehicles would break down, as many of the garages had been closed during the lockdown. The SAPS had a limited number of garages open to fix the vehicles, and it now considered sending out its vehicles to be repaired at commercial garages, as the workload was high. It had been standard practice to send SAPS vehicles to commercial garages when the SAPS garages were full. There would be a reconfiguration to stock up the SAPS garages with the tools necessary to fix the vehicles. On the human resources, he admitted that COVID-19 had affected the number of absentee members of staff, but resources had been redirected to address that. Volunteers had also assisted in managing the workload.

He said the SAPS worked to stabilise any flare up of gang violence. Once stabilisation had occurred, then normal policing could commence. For example, when many police officers had been deployed to Mitchells Plain, the scale would later drop once the gang violence in that area had been stabilised. The same thing would take place in Mfuleni. It was about constantly reprioritising and redirecting resources to stabilise situations, and then return to a continuation of normal policing.

He referred to the earlier question about the ratio of police officers to population, and said it had been an ongoing debate in the SAPS, but it could not be modelled with any other country as South Africa was unique. That question had been interrogated for a long time.

Maj Gen Vearey responded to Mr Marais’ question about gang membership as it related to Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). He said that in all the court cases, it first had to be proved that the gang brought to court was a criminal gang. It was not enough just to state that it was a gang. There would need to be proof of historical criminal activities associated with the gang. It was fairly easy when dealing with gangs like the 28’s, the 26’s and the 27’s, which had existed for 200 years who had a declared mission of crime. It was in their codes and historically established. He referred to the first gang case he had dealt with concerning the ‘Fancy Boys,’ in which the entire leadership had been taken down, and said that the members had argued they were not a criminal gang but a group of boys that hung out together and called themselves the ‘Fancy Boys.’ The SAPS had to counter prove that narrative through a history of its operations. Once that threshold had been crossed, there were the series of offences plus the proof of the criminality of the gang where  the court expected five more things to be proved:

  1. If the person admitted to being in a gang;
  2. If they were identified by an parent or guardian;
  3. If they frequented a gang area and adopted its style of dress code, hand signs, language or codes associated with the criminal gang;
  4. If the person had been arrested more than once in the company of identified leaders of a criminal gang; or
  5. If the person identified as a member of criminal gang by evidence such as photographs and documentation.

Maj Gen Vearey said the last one was the most challenging to prove in court, as a person might have decided to tattoo ‘TJ’ on to themselves as a 13-year-old because they were at school and wanted to identify but were not a member, but 20 years later the SAPS could not use that as criteria to prove gang membership. He explained that challenge had come up in a case where a defendant claimed the tattoos he had were old. The freshness of the tattoos had to be proved, because on the Cape Flats many people had gang-associated tattoos. Those were the complexities of trying to convict gang members, which involved long operations of evidence collection and was a form of intelligence for the SAPS.

The Head of the Western Cape Crime Intelligence was Maj Gen Mzwandile Tiyo.

Maj Gen Patekile said the SAPS had the intelligence capacity, which was how it gathered information, as most of the SAPS operations were intelligence driven.

On consideration of changes to the laws and policies, Maj Gen Manci said murders were committed through the use of firearms and dangerous weapons. The SAPS struggled with cases that dealt with dangerous weapons, as they were not prosecuted because prosecutors considered them from another perspective. However, the reality was that if the SAPS did not stop, search and confiscate knives from criminals, then people would get robbed and killed. In that regard, the SAPS needed assistance from policy makers.

He referred to the confiscation of liquor from illegal traders, and said shebeens offered and sold liquor illegally. It was labour intensive to confiscate liquor from shebeens, and thereafter it would be booked in and the case would go before court to be processed, but if it had to be returned to the shebeens it created a vicious cycle. Preferably the liquor should be disposed of and not returned to the shebeens so that they could be closed down and trade under compliance. That was a vacuum law makers could assist in eliminating.

Maj Gen Vearey said that in South Africa, the victim of domestic violence and GBV was the one that had to look for alternative accommodation, escorted by police officers, while the perpetrator remained in the house. In Germany it was the other way around, with police officers escorting the perpetrator out of the house for a period of time, and were authorised to do so. He also asked law makers to reconsider that position.

Maj Gen Patekile said police management had considered the situation of police officers residing in gang infested areas and police villages, and the last engagement on it had been two weeks ago. Each province had been challenged to locate land and inform Gen Sitole. He did not know whether it would be on private or public land, but the thinking had been that ideally police officers would stop staying in gang communities as the threats and attacks on members in areas they lived in inhibited them from doing their jobs. Management had agreed that police estates were the way to go, where police officers and law enforcement agents would live in the same areas. That would require schools and other amenities. He agreed police members needed to be looked after, as they did not qualify for reconstruction and development programme (RDP) houses or mortgaged homes, so police estates were the way to go.

Mr Roberts said Maj Gen Vearey had trained everyone at the police stations about the POCA and the identification of gangs, and this should be built upon. Commenting on the laws that hampered policing, and said it was a question of applying the laws, and not what the laws hampered. The relevant Acts needed to be applied to the operational approach towards gangs. The same was applicable to the transport violations, extortion, corruption and GBV environment.

Adv Pillay said the DCS continued to exercise its oversight mandate over the SAPS and municipal police services. However, that did not preclude collaborative work, and she reiterated her appreciation to the SAPS and the City of Cape Town. The DCS looked forward to the finalisation of the appointment of a Western Cape Provincial Commissioner that would ensure stability in the province.

The Chairperson said the Committee would continue playing its oversight role, and thanked the SAPS, the CoCT and the DCS for the robust engagements that had taken place.

Maj Gen Patekile thanked the Committee for the opportunity to engage, and declared that the efforts were reciprocal, with the need for community leaders to also play their role. He said all role-players had to act responsibly to address crime, as in Khayelitsha there were many cases of kidnapping and extortion that required a united stand. The SAPS had made inroads by arresting criminals, but required a joint approach from the whole of society.

Mr Roberts thanked the Committee for the opportunity to engage about the City of Cape Town’s willingness to support the municipalities and the SAPS in the fight against crime. It stood united in carrying out its mandate to fight crime, and constantly looked at strategies to play a supportive role in the fight against crimes of gangsterism, land invasion and transport violations. He believed technology ought to be utilised more. LEAP had been run in collaboration with the province to bring the murder rate down.

The Chairperson thanked everyone for their attendance, and repeated his previous sentiments. The entities were excused.  

Committee Resolutions

The Chairperson asked Members to email their resolutions to the Committee’s Procedural Officer. The SAPS had indicated it would send additional information about multiple issues.  

Mr Marais thanked the Chairperson for the informative meeting, which he felt had been well managed. He had been struck by two matters to which Maj Gen Vearey had agreed. The first was that the POCA Act needed amendment, to make it easier for the police officers to convict persons that belonged, promoted or advanced gang activities, and the Committee needed to suggest that the Western Cape Legislature, in terms of its own constitution, request the national government to amend the Act. That way it would be a useful instrument for the police to get convictions against gangsters. That was the first resolution he proposed.

Secondly, he said the Western Cape MECs of Community Safety, Human Settlements and Public Works should collaborate with one another on the establishment of police villages in the Western Cape so that police officers could feel safe in the environments where they were housed. Police officers should not be forced to live in crime-infested areas, as they got killed because they had to prosecute criminals who were their neighbours.

Ms Botha said her question had not been responded to. In her resolution, she wanted to know how many pending cases there against members of the SAPS who had been on the payroll of gangsters. How were the current investigations going, and how many of them had been convicted within the last year?

Mr Kama resolved to request a footprint of active CCTV cameras in the CoCT.

Mr Christians said he was shocked by the number of legal guns in the possession of criminals. He asked for a report and an update on how the process was with dealing with that issue. He was worried about known gangsters having access to guns and ammunition.

Mr Bosman said he would email his questions, as some had been completely unanswered. He was reassured that Maj Gen Patekile had assured the Committee that the SAPS had a national competency within its Crime Intelligence Unit to tackle crime. He looked forward to seeing the fruits of that capacity, and said the police had to be held accountable. He agreed with Mr Christians that an update on the firearm investigation was required. He was disturbed by the remarks made by the SAPS, and was not convinced that it had a clear plan in place.

Mr Mackenzie echoed Mr Marais sentiments, and was thankful the Chairperson had highlighted the topic of gangsterism and crime which destroyed communities. He requested the Head of Crime Intelligence to present before the Committee on the status of crime intelligence in the Western Cape. What was its vacancy rate, and did it have sufficient equipment to function? Given what was happening in the province with crime, one would expect a crime intelligence unit to prevent an escalation of crime, yet murders continued to take place. He therefore doubted that the Western Cape Crime Intelligence Unit functioned properly.

Secondly, he wanted to know whether Operation Thunder was still active, as it was meant to address gang violence, and there had been mention of Operation Lockdown 2. Was there a new operation to deal with gangs? Those were issues he had hoped SAPS would have shared with the Committee.

Mr Mackenzie also had questions about the supply chain, as the SAPS had informed the Committee about multiple things that only national government could do, so he requested a presentation on what was procured in the province and what was procured nationally. What was the status on the SAPS supply chain in the Western Cape so the Committee could ascertain the potential risks for the Western Cape?

The Chairperson said he had submitted a Parliamentary question about Operation Lockdown 2, and Maj Gen Patekile had said he would furnish the Committee with that information.

On the illegal firearms, Mr Kama said he did not want any animosity between the SAPS and the Committee, and recalled that Maj Gen Vearey had mentioned an ongoing court case in which he was a state witness, which explained his brief answers.

The meeting was adjourned.


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