Community Safety 2021 Adjustment Appropriation

Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport (WCPP)

07 December 2021
Chairperson: Mr R Allen (DA)
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Meeting Summary


Western Cape Adjustments Appropriation Bill

Publication: Western Cape Adjusted Estimates of Provincial Revenue and Expenditure, 2021

The Standing Committee deliberated and adopted its Committee Report on Vote 13: Community Safety as provided for in the Western Cape Adjustment Appropriation Bill. The Department of Community Safety (DCS) provided a thorough report on its performance beforehand and the reasons for the adjusted budget.

Members asked for details on funds for neighbourhood watches; about the decrease in numbers at the Chrysallis Academy and if it had a negative effect on applicants from Western Cape rural areas; if the Department has plans to provide life or funeral cover for members of neighbourhood watches killed in line of duty; if there are plans to ensure missed targets are reached in future; and if the Department is addressing Chrysallis graduates who did not receive their payments on time.

Meeting report

Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, pointed out that the main priorities of the Department were negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department has seen some success in the crime statistics in the Metro, especially in the murder hotspot areas. There has been displacement of crime to some rural areas. That meant reprioritising rural areas by bolstering them with a K9 unit and reaction unit in areas like Overstrand.

Ms Yashina Pillay, Head of Community Safety Department, said area-based teams have been established across the districts of the province, with a focus on the worst-hit police stations in terms of murder cases, while working with all stakeholders. The Department has rolled out more than 1000 Safety Ambassadors to support rural safety initiatives, K9 units, farm watches, neighbourhood watches, and other accredited structures. The Department is in the process of establishing a technology-linked safety and security network across the province from the centre of Cape Town to Central Karoo.

Mr Thys Giliomee, CEO of Western Cape Liquor Authority, said as an organisation they are eager to participate in the Western Cape Safety Plan, and to increase the footprint of their inspectors to ensure all liquor sites are thoroughly inspected.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) remarked that underspending needed to be addressed due to posts that have not been filled. He asked if the Department was bolstering the K9 unit because of problems such as illegal poaching and drugs in the Overstrand area. Are all these interventions making a difference in reducing the murder rate? He asked if the underspent money could not be used to rollout crime fighting programmes because the festive season is at hand.

MEC Fritz replied that the under-expenditure at the Chrysallis Academy and in other areas was the result of Covid-19 regulations. The intake numbers had to be halved. It was impossible to have a crowd in the academy.

The Department was able to establish the K9 Unit in the Overstrand-Overberg and Gansbaai areas because the area was ready for them. The area-based teams in Overberg are a force-multiplier because they are based in municipalities and police stations.

The last quarter crime statistics indicated Western Cape is the only province where there has been a reduction in murder and crime in general, especially in hotspot areas. It is the Department’s approach to the Safety Plan where law enforcement and crime prevention deal with the origins of crime. As a result, most municipalities are asking for these area-based teams.

Ms Pillay added under-expenditure is mainly due to the non-implementation of the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) Programme due to the pandemic restrictions and so the training college was not operating normally. This meant procurement processes of equipment  additional firearms had to be reassigned.

The Department came to the conclusion that the same resources were required in the Overstrand. Consequently, a reaction unit similar to the response unit of LEAP officers was established in that area with the K9 Unit.

On the Chrysallis Academy, numbers had to be reduced drastically to adhere to Covid-19 protocols, and due to that, the Department was unable to spend all its budget.

The murder rate decrease is aligned to the integrated planning the Department coordinates with SAPS, City of Cape Town (COCT) metro, law enforcement agencies, and additional LEAP officers in the affected areas.

The Chairperson asked for more details on funds for neighbourhood watches.

Ms Pillay replied that due to the pandemic regulations the neighbourhood watches had to undertake certain Covid-19 initiatives. They were paid a stipend for those projects. This was a special allocation for that kind of work.

Ms L Botha (DA) enquired what the decrease was in numbers at the Chrysallis Academy and if it had a negative effect on applicants from the rural areas of the Western Cape.

Mr Trevor Wingrove, DSC Director: Crime Prevention Centre, replied that the academy has trained 435 young people in the year under review. One cohort was left which would start in January 2022. The exact figures would be sent to the Committee. On average the intake for the three-month programme is usually between 125 and 130 graduates. For this financial year, the Department is looking at 400 young people. There is an improvement compared to the previous financial year. There is 100% placement in work opportunities. The focus on rural areas has not changed.

Mr Christians asked if the Department has thought of providing life or funeral cover for neighbourhood watch members if they are killed in line of duty as most of them work in crime infested areas. He felt it is unsustainable only to get stipends when their neighbourhood watch gets work on special projects because they risk their lives to ensure our communities are safe.

Ms Pillay replied they had given thought to a funeral/life cover or a stipend. DCS had engaged its own legal services about this. Legal services had pointed out that if the Department provides such a cover, it would require a substantial amount of money considering the number of watches in the province. This would lead to the Department being unable to meet its Annual Performance Plan when considering its annual budget and cuts. Upon accreditation of a neighbourhood watch,  DCS does pay R10 000 to the neighbourhood watch structure so that it continues to survive.

Mr David Coetzee, DCS Acting Chief Director: Security Risk Management, added that DCS Legal Services advised that it is better for each neighbourhood watch to insure its own members. The Department has spoken with the big insurance companies that indicated it is the liability of the individual member. Therefore each neighbourhood watch has to insure its own members. At provincial level, when DCS is looking at the professionalisation of neighbourhood watches, it looks at auxillary and reservist officers. The Department is looking at some type of insurance when neighbourhood watch members are physically deployed. This is part of the new model of professionalising them and building a safety network. It is looking at the finer details of all these arrangements.

The Chairperson asked if there has been an engagement with the City of Cape Town and other municipalities about the neighbourhood watches.

MEC Fritz replied that the COCT is vigorously investigating the insurance policy matter. Already, the Department has assisted three neighbourhood watch members who died of natural causes. This is an indication of how important this matter is to the Department.

Ms Pillay added this matter is still being explored and it would be premature for her to provide details at this stage. It is going to depend on the availability of budget. Another opportunity is that of exploring partnerships between neighbourhood watches and the private sector.

Ms P Lekker (ANC) asked if there are preparations by DCS to ensure missed targets are reached in future. She asked if the Department has paid attention to Chrysallis graduates who have not received their payments on time.

MEC Fritz replied that DCS, in light of the pandemic, had to relook at its set targets. All departments had adjusted their targets.

Ms Pillay replied that learners at Chrysallis Academy could not be placed as originally planned due to Covid-19 restrictions. Meeting the targets would also depend on the fourth wave. The important factor for the Department is to protect lives. On the payments, there were challenges to the financial systems of the Department and, as far as she knows, the payments were processed.

Mr Fred Watkins, DCS Acting Director: Risk Management, confirmed the payments were done on 24 November before even they received notification about the problem.

MEC Fritz, in his closing remarks, stated the Department takes the concerns of the Committee very seriously in ensuring the dignity of the people of the Western Cape, and to act speedily in correcting challenges. He was proud of the Department achieving its 13th clean audit.

The Committee resolved to ask for an update from the Department about progress in rezoning certain areas when applying for a liquor licence.

Committee Report on Vote 13: Community Safety
The Chairperson the tabled the Vote Report and it was adopted with no amendments.

Ms Lekker expressed a minority view for the ANC not to support the vote.

Committee Report on the Metro Police
The Committee Report on the Metro Police was adopted.

The Committee adopted three sets of minutes.

The meeting was adjourned.


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