Too few SAPS boots on the ground, laments Premier Alan Winde
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Cape Town - Premier Alan Winde has painted a grim picture of policing in the province, lamenting a shortage of officers saying that it’s common for the province’s 150 police precincts to have too few boots on the ground.
Winde and Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz held a press conference on Thursday to unpack the Western Cape Government’s policing needs and priorities (PNP) report.
It was in response to Police Minister Bheki Cele’s recent remarks that the Western Cape was one of the most resourced provinces when it comes to policing.
Those remarks had Winde and Fritz’s heads spinning, demanding Cele to acknowledge the “very serious resourcing challenges that the province faces”, claiming that they have communicated this to him in detail.
Winde said the latest PNP report has been referred to the standing committee on community safety, cultural affairs and sports, where it would be fully considered. The police and the City would also be given an opportunity for input.
Fritz said the 2020/21 report was no exception and highlighted clear recommendations to address challenges, particularly as those related to resource constraints within the police.
The PNP highlighted that the recruitment and appointment of additional members were premised on the fact that the number of police officers has declined both provincially and nationally, and that they were unevenly distributed throughout the province.
It also highlighted the vehicle fleet management, which needs to be improved, and delays in repairing vehicles needed to be addressed.
“Those police stations requiring upgrades needed to be attended to and CCTV cameras and security installations must address security risks.”
It stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted further on the declining number of reservists and it would appear that the police intended to recruit new police officials from the ranks of reservists.
“The police must start a recruitment campaign for new reservists, especially in those areas where crime is highest and police visibility is most needed.”
Recommendations on backlogs in the forensic services laboratories included having the forensic science laboratory in the Western Cape report to the Western Cape provincial commissioner, rather than at the national level.
They said the procurement of buccal sample kits needed to be improved and distributed to priority stations.
Meanwhile, mayor Dan Plato called on President Ramaphosa to recall and replace Cele with someone “who cares about policing”.