The Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs, and Sport convened in a virtual meeting to receive a briefing by the Department of Community Safety (DoCS) and the City of Cape Town (CoCT) on the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP).
The Committee heard that the LEAP was implemented as a direct result of the Western Cape Provincial Safety Plan (WCSP). The Safety Plan, through the LEAP, prioritised the reduction of murder and the areas with the highest homicide rates in the province. Based on the homicide reports from the Department of Health (DoH) co-angulated with the SAPS crime statistics, the stations with the highest murder rates were located within the CoCT. Therefore, homicide was the main criteria for the allocation of law enforcement funding in the MTEF period and the LEAP funding prioritised such areas.
The Chairperson asked if there was any discussion around the possibility of applying for National Skills Funding to augment the training of more LEAP Officers, especially outside of the CoCT.
Members were informed that the National Skills Fund assisted several rural municipalities as part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) by training law enforcement officers. The CoCT added that they would submit a detailed funding breakdown to the Committee.
On the LEAP monitoring and governance oversight, the Committee heard that the DoCS appointed a single manager as a nodal point to ensure more streamlined, effective, efficient management and reporting on the LEAP and improved communication between role-players. The CoCT appointed a new LEAP project manager in 2021 to streamline internal and external compliances and reporting.
The Committee asked if the DoCS and the CoCT had identified the possible benefits of the Safer City Model could be and how the LEAP programme would be of real value when it operated within the Model. It also wanted to know if there was a plan to ensure that the murder hotspot areas remained stabilised after the LEAP officer interventions and whether the public had direct access to the LEAP Officer services within the hotspot areas.
Members heard that the LEAP officers were deployed in hotspot areas as determined by the province in terms of the transfer payment agreement, but there was a short-term and more flexible mechanism for responding to active shootings through a Standard Operating Procedure that was activated jointly by the province and the CoCT. This included the reaction unit composed of some of the Officers drawn from every area, like Elsies River and Grassy Park.
The Committee was pleased to receive the information that the public did have access to the law enforcement officers through the landline 021 480 7700. The Department of Community Safety said that convictions was the crux of the matter and hopefully most of the Committee’s time would be devoted to pursuing the matter of the conviction rate as there was a two to three percent conviction rate for gang related violence.
Election of Chairperson
Mr G Bosman (DA) was elected as the new Chairperson of the Standing Committee.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson appreciated the nomination and election for the chairpersonship of the Committee. He welcomed the Committee and the delegation from the Department of Community Safety (DoCS) and the City of Cape Town (CoCT) and reminded everyone to turn on their videos when speaking because the meeting was live on YouTube. He then allowed Members of the Committee and the delegation from DoCS and CoCT to introduce them.
He said that the DoCS and CoCT would jointly brief the Committee on the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) and that the Committee had asked the DoCS to present the criteria that it uses to determine the funding allocation for the LEAP, legislative framework guiding the oversight and monitoring role played by the Department on the use of the funding, and collective funding allocated to LEAP since its inception.
The Committee had also asked for the projected number of years in which the funding would continue, and the Department’s stance on extending funding to similar programmes in other provincial municipalities that are enabled by their own municipal policing or law enforcement structures. It also had asked for the scope of the Department’s role in determining the deployment of the LEAP Officers and areas in which those officers were deployed.
The Committee had asked the CoCT to determine the criteria used for using the funding allocated by DoCS for the LEAP, the Directorate’s mid or long-term plan to maintain the facilitation of the LEAP, the criteria for the LEAP Officer deployment in specific areas within the Metro, and the role and powers of the LEAP Officers in comparison with the roles and powers of other municipal policing Officers.
It had also asked the CoCT to determine the scope of the jurisdiction with the duties regarding policing, investigations, arrests, and crime intelligence of the LEAP Officers and the relationship between municipal policing and Law Enforcement Units within the provincial South African Police Service (SAPS).
Briefing by the Department of Community Safety (DoCS)
Mr David Coetzee, Acting Head of Department, DoCS, said that the LEAP is based on a data and intelligence-driven project and in its specific deployments, various sources of data using hectors from the Department of Health (DoH), SAPS, Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) and some information from communities are used to identify the hotspots where the deployments will be done.
The LEAP is also there to reduce murder rates, as in the Safety Plan, there is a priority focus on ten murder priority stations, and some expansions have been made. There is a total of 1 258 officers employed by the Leap Project, with actual deployment of 1 116, and 87 that were currently in training. He then handed over to the Acting Director of Safety Promotion and Partnerships to do the presentation.
Mr Robbie Roberts, Director: Operational Coordination, CoCT, said that the answers to questions that were asked by the Committee to the CoCT would also be covered in the Department’s presentation and that they would be available to answer any further questions from the Committee.
Mr Wayne Butler, Acting Director: Safety Promotion and Partnerships, DoCS, said that the origins of the safety priority started with a five-year Strategic Plan from 2014-2019, where five provincial strategic goals were identified, with strategic goal three focusing on safety and increasing wellness. In 2018, the Western Cape Safety Plan came into fruition just before the next five-year period of a new Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP) 2019-2024.
The PSP 2019-2024 was reworked into five vision-inspired priorities with safe and cohesive communities being the first, with a focus on policing capacity and effectiveness. After the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department developed a Recovery Plan for 2021, which prioritised job creation, safety, and well-being. The safety aspect was focused on improved policing and law enforcement, the safety social cluster urban design, and used data and evidence with hectors from the DoH. This led to the design and development of the LEAP, which was focused on policing capacity and effectiveness, increasing goods on the ground, as well as improved policing and law enforcement.
Regarding the criteria for funding, he said that the LEAP was implemented as a direct result of the Western Cape Provincial Safety Plan (WCSP). The Safety Plan through the LEAP prioritises the reduction of murder, and the areas with the highest homicide rates in the province were prioritised. Based on the homicide reports from the DoH co-angulated with the SAPS Crime Statistics, the stations with the highest murder rates were located within the CoCT. Therefore, homicide was the main criteria for the allocation of law enforcement funding in the MTEF period and the LEAP funding prioritised such areas.
He said that the DoCS’ legislative framework is derived from the LEAP Gazette that was tabled annually and the Gazette set out monitoring requirements for the beneficiary institution and has an effective oversight and monitoring requirement for the funding Department. The Gazette is supported by the TPA in accordance with the PFMA & MFMA and the DoCS initiated a Section 35 IGR Governance & Protocol Agreement to further strengthen the effective financial and resource management and governance of the LEAP.
On the LEAP monitoring and governance oversight, he said that the DoCS appointed a single manager as the nodal point to ensure more streamlined, effective, and efficient management and reporting on the LEAP and improved communication between role-players. The CoCT appointed a new LEAP Project Manager in 2021 to streamline internal and external compliances and reporting.
He also presented the revised IGR governance framework, the collective funding allocated to the LEAP since its inception, the extension of funding to similar programmes in rural municipalities, and the scope of the Department’s role in the LEAP officers’ deployment.
Mr Roberts said that on the scope of the LEAP Officer’s jurisdiction in respect of policing, investigations, arrests, and crime intelligence, they were directly involved in the areas mentioned in slide 22 of the presentation and were working under the command and control of the SAPS and were part of the planning and execution process. Mr Brand had a major role in the relationship between the SAPS and the CoCT regarding the tactical joint planning process that happened every Tuesday with the different stations and clusters as part of the integrated planning process.
On the relationship between municipal policing and law enforcement units, he said that there was currently a good relationship although there were problems related to the planning and execution process in the beginning. The intervention of Mr Brand, the CoCT, and the Deputy Provincial Commissioner to establish the weekly joint operational planning process helped salvage the relationship between the municipal policing and law enforcement units, including the DoCS and the CoCT.
He said that every LEAP member was appointed as a Peace Officer in terms of Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Act, and law enforcement officers were appointed according to the declaration of a Peace Officer. He said that he could provide the Committee with a full presentation of the CoCT’s legislative mandate to the LEAP members.
Mr F Christians (ACDP) said that in terms of the reduction of the murder rate in the areas people complained that the murder rates decrease when the LEAP officers were deployed, but when they left the areas the instability reemerges, and the murder rates go up again. He asked if there was a plan to ensure that the murder hotspot areas stay stabilised after the LEAP officer interventions. He also wanted to know if the LEAP officers only go to the murder hotspots because there were flare-ups that happened in other areas as well. He asked if the public had direct access to LEAP officer services within the hotspot areas. Lastly, he wanted to know if ordinary law enforcement officers such as the metro police were also involved and how they assisted the LEAP officers.
Mr M Kama (ANC) asked if DoCS and the CoCT had identified what the possible benefits of the Safer City Model could be and how the LEAP programme would be of real value when it operated within the Model.
Response by the City of Cape Town (CoCT) and the DoCS
Alderman JP Smith, MMC: Safety and Security, CoCT, said that the LEAP officers were deployed in hotspot areas as determined by the province in terms of the transfer payment agreement, but there was a short-term and a more flexible mechanism for responding to active shootings through a Standard Operating Procedure that is activated jointly by the province and the CoCT. This included the reaction unit composed of some of the officers drawn from every area, for example in Elsies River and Grassy Park.
He wished they had enough LEAP officers to stabilise the entire city, but the intervention was expensive and the core business of the city should be traffic and bylaw enforcement. The public does have access to the law enforcement officers through the landline 021 480 7700. The City also handed out pamphlets and sent out digital content to communities advising them of the reward for information on firearms and crime. Displacement was a reality, but the crux of the matter was convictions and hopefully, most of the Committee’s time would be devoted to pursuing the matter of the conviction rate, as there was a two to three percent conviction rate for gang-related violence.
He said that the City had a range of society interventions in terms of economic development, drug treatment, access to basic services, and by each of these metrics, Cape Town was doing more than any other local authority. Gang violence persisted because to deal with gang violence, there was a need for a dedicated and organised policing response, special prosecutors, and increased investment in specialised units. The Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) is a step toward the right direction, but there needs to be a lot more done on the prosecutorial and investigative side.
The City also deployed investigating personnel within the LEAP units who were going to do watching briefs over what happened to the firearm, gang, and drug-related arrests so that they start leading to convictions and do not just fall off the prosecutorial agenda. The LEAP was currently valuable, but a lot more still needed to be done either by adding more LEAP officers or the SAPS deployment in the hotspot areas so that the city could get to international best practice standards. The City is also working to deepen the LEAP in terms of the school resource offices, neighbourhood safety orientation, and the Mayor’s urban regeneration project in the hotspot areas so that it could do more social development interventions that were less focused on policing.
Mr Roberts said that when the LEAP unit was withdrawn from an area because of stability, normalisation by the SAPS should occur in the respective area to ensure that the crime flare-up does not reoccur, and normality is restored in the community. The SAPS was also assisted by the CoCT in deploying the metro police, law enforcement and traffic in the specific areas to assist with integrated operations. The city also has its own autonomous operations within the specific areas to enforce its specific bylaws.
Apart from the LEAP deployment in the gang areas, there was also a tactical forum between the SAPS and the anti-gang unit who plan weekly operations and were deployed weekly to the gang hotspot areas. The movement of the gang violence is monitored by the five-pillar approach of the SAPS, namely intelligence covering, operational reaction, investigation, and communication. There are various projects that were currently running in the hotspot areas, and that was also where the neighbourhood watches play an important role in getting young males involved in awareness programmes to prevent crime.
Regarding the Safer City Model, he said that he and the Deputy Provincial Commissioner of SAPS are coordinating the Safer City Model within the City and are focused on nine working streams. One of the streams is technology, wherein the city is using cameras, drones, shot spotters, desk cams, and various technology with the NPR camera systems to contribute to the Safer City Model to ensure the safety of the communities.
Mr Johan Brand, Facilitator: Multi-stakeholder Partnership, Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (WCEDP), said that the LEAP deployments were only one part of the Western Cape Safety Plan, and that was the stabilisation part.
Ms R Windvogel (ANC) wanted to know which municipalities in the rural areas had K9 Units and the criteria that were used to choose the respective municipalities.
Mr Kama asked for a total breakdown of the funds that had been spent since the inception of the LEAP project to date and wanted to know if the number of 3 000 LEAP officers was still adequate for the future, considering the murder rates in the province. He also asked for clarity on slide 25 of the presentation where it spoke to the month-on-month changes in homicide by precinct and asked whether the slide was a reflection of 2021 figures. Considering that it was said in the presentation that the LEAP officers now operated for 24 hours, he wanted to know the number of shifts that the Officers did in a day and the number of members in each shift and the challenges they had experienced in that regard.
The Chairperson asked if there was any discussion around the possibility of applying for national skills funding to augment the training of more LEAP officers, especially outside of the CoCT.
Mr Butler said that slide 25 was a comparative slide for June and July 2021 and added that perhaps the DoH or the Department of the Premier could present the slide better.
Mr Shaun Smith, Deputy Chief: Law Enforcement (LEAP), said that the LEAP officers worked 24-hour shifts in their 11 areas of deployment, so shifts were allocated according to the total number of people that were deployed in the police station in an area divided by four shifts. For example in the Nyanga area, there were 70 officers deployed, so there were 17 officers per shift.
Mr Coetzee said that the K9 Units in the rural areas were currently in the Overstrand, Swartland, and Mossel Bay and they were being piloted in those areas to see how effective they were and how they could support law enforcement in the rural areas. At Swartland, they looked at the N7 which was a drug influx route and the way bridge outside Murraysburg and Matsikana, so the K9 Unit would work in the entire district. In the Overstrand they looked at the poaching and drug trade in the area and the K9 Unit would operate in the entire District. The Mossel Bay K9 Unit started operating this year and covered the entire Garden Route District. The criteria involved looking at each of the districts’ capacity to deal with the infrastructure of managing the Dog Units and the next objective was to look at a Dog Unit to cover the N1.
Regarding the number of LEAP Officers, he said that their current projections and budget are for 1 000 members, and they have exceeded that number as they are currently on 1 200 members. The Department is required to submit a budget every year and they had to do an impact assessment, which is in the process of being finalised and will be submitted to Treasury to motivate additional resources.
Regarding the involvement of the national skills fund, he said that they assist several rural municipalities as part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) by training law enforcement officers. He said that they would submit a detailed funding breakdown to the Committee as requested by Mr Kama.
Mr Christians wanted to know if the LEAP officers are also deployed to the specific areas that were known for flare-ups of crime, such as specific shebeens or shops, etcetera and whether they also went to areas where they saw potential for flare-ups of crime to neutralise it before it occurred. He also wanted to know if the City works with the province to find ways to solve the conviction rate issue and whether the LEAP Officers were informed enough to make investigations easier.
Mr Kama wanted to know why the K9 Units are not in the entry points of the province and the support that the K9 project provides to SAPS in identifying and closing down the drug dens in the province.
Mr Coetzee said that the LEAP and the SAPS work according to a briefing on specific areas of deployment, also incorporating information from the WCLA, and the idea was to be visible and try to prevent crime from happening. On the conviction rate, he said that although the Department does policing oversight, their watching brief is focused on identifying systemic issues that go to court in the police stations to see if they can improve on the conviction rate. They also engaged with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to discuss issues, for example, the NPA is busy with a firearm reduction strategy in the Metro.
The K9 Units are supporting the SAPS in the rural districts and their focus was on drugs and illegal firearms and they were covering the entry points where they were situated. It was also about the capacity of the district municipalities to support the infrastructure of managing and maintaining the K9 Units, as the procurement of the dogs and their training was also an expensive process.
The Chairperson thanked the delegations from the Department of Community Safety and the City of Cape Town for availing themselves to answering the Committee’s questions on the LEAP programme. He said that it was important to note that the programme does make a significant impact in stabilising and that there was a need for long-term solutions in the Safety Plan in the province. He added that it was encouraging to hear that the Department had the cooperation with all the safety stakeholders including the SAPS, who had the ultimate responsibility to protect the communities.
He allowed the delegations to exit the meeting.
The Chairperson said that Mr Brand had told the Committee that he would share the 69-page presentation on the powers of the LEAP Officers and all of the CoCT’s law enforcement and metro police officers. He noted that the Committee’s Procedural Officer had listed all the other information that DoCS and the CoCT would send to the Committee in the following weeks and asked Members if they had any other resolutions or requests for information.
Mr Kama requested a briefing from the CoCT and the SAPS on the Safer City Model.
Mr Christians requested a presentation of the powers of the LEAP Officers according to the Criminal Procedure Act, Section 334.
The Chairperson proposed that the Committee invited the SAPS to brief it on its strategy for dealing with gang violence in the Western Cape and the NPA and the Department of Justice to brief the Committee about the conviction rate on violent crime and gangs in the province.
Mr Christians also proposed that the Committee invite the SAPS to present on the under-resourcing of the police in the province.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Christians and added that the SAPS could also present the disposal and storage of firearms within the SAPS in the province and how the firearms ended up back on the streets.
Mr Kama asked if the CoCT could also be included in the meeting because some of the houses that are responsible for the selling and distribution of drugs are property of the city and it would be important to understand the cooperation between the SAPS and the City in trying to get these houses closed.
The Chairperson requested that the Committee also received a briefing on the Western Cape Safety Dashboard.
The Committee considered and adopted minutes dated 02 and 18 March 2022 and the Committee’s Draft Annual Activities Report with no amendments.
Other outstanding issues
Ms Windvogel wanted to know if there could be a session for the Committee to review its satisfaction on feedback that it received from the departments on the resolutions and actions that it took. This was because she felt that the Committee only made resolutions and did not actually look at the feedback.
The Chairperson said that the Committee Procedural Officer could create a resolution tracker document where all the resolutions can be tracked by the Committee to see whether they have been met, and the Committee can decide on the next steps to be taken.
Ms D Baartman (DA) suggested that the Committee should visit Mossel Bay on the week of the 18th until the 21st, as the Petitions Committee and the Education Committee would also be in the area during that week. She felt that it would be good to have the entire social cluster committees complete their resolutions in the area within the same week.
The Chairperson said that the Committee will have to check with the Department if the K9 Unit in Mossel Bay will have been launched during those dates.
Mr Kama said that he had been receiving phone calls informing him that the WCLA was holding public meetings and wanted to know if this was a public participation process toward changing regulations in the liquor license application process.
Mr Waseem Mathews, Committee Procedural Officer, said that he was unsure and would ask the Department and the Liquor Authority and revert back to the Committee with the details.
The Chairperson said that the Liquor Authority was holding public meetings to introduce changes to the automatic license renewal process.
The Chairperson thanked all Members of the Committee for their attendance and participation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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