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Cape Town - The Western Cape government has issued a new demand for the urgent introduction of specialised units to fight the province’s drugs-and-gangs crime crisis, after news that Free State police plan such units.
Provincial Community Safety MEC Dan Plato has consistently asked provincial police head Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer for the reinstatement of gang units - which were scrapped under the national police command of now-convicted Jackie Selebi more than five years ago.
Lamoer has repeatedly dismissed these calls. Most recently, on September 20, he said: “The successes when it comes to drugs are because every single police officer accepts ownership in the fight against drugs.
“If we have a specific unit to do that, the ownership goes to that unit alone… we’ve seen it and history has taught us that.”
But Plato, pictured, met Lamoer’s senior deputies today and again demanded the introduction of the units after reports from Free State that new provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thabetha Mpembe had announced on Friday that Free State would be getting its own specialised gang unit. Reports by the Sapa news agency confirmed this.
Plato said on Wednesday the latest crime statistics (2012-2013) revealed there were 6 168 drug-related crimes in Free State, whereas in the Western Cape there were 82 062 in the same period.
Plato said he would be asking Lamoer to “explain to the Western Cape cabinet and the people of this province why he is denying the Western Cape a specialised gang unit when this province has at least 13 times more drug related crimes than the Free State”.
He said the National Planning Commission’s National Development Plan, endorsed by the cabinet for implementation by the government, had recommended that specialised policing be reintroduced.
Plato warned that Lamoer would be asked to explain the continued absence of such units in the Western Cape when he appeared at the provincial cabinet meeting next week.
In his statement, Plato argued that specialised policing units had proved to be an effective strategy as they offered “dedicated teams working solely on specific crime categories; specialist skills and expertise needed to investigate, detect, arrest and ensure successful convictions; detectives who had full knowledge of often complex legislation and what is often sophisticated organised crime and were adaptable to changing environments and modus operandi and have the capacity to build up intelligence”.
At the time of publication, police had not publicly responded to Plato’s fresh call.