All eyes on new police and safety MEC Marais

Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Anroux Marais. Photographer: Ayanda ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Anroux Marais. Photographer: Ayanda ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 21, 2024


All eyes are on newly appointed Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Anroux Marais to address crime across the province following the redeployment of her hands-on predecessor, Reagan Allen.

Marais took over the portfolio following Premier Alan Winde’s Cabinet reshuffle last week, with Allen moved to Deputy Speaker of the legislature.

The 67-year-old Marais has been an MPL since 2004 and was reappointed to the position of Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC in 2019, having held the post since 2015.

Before entering politics, Marais was an occupational therapist.

She holds a Bachelor's and Honours degree in Occupational Therapy, and a postgraduate diploma in vocational rehabilitation.

Winde said Marais has a wealth of experience working with young people, and is committed to making the province safer.

“Ms Marais will bring her years of experience working with youth at risk and building safer and cohesive communities to the government’s commitment to making this province safer,” he said.

Marais acted in the Police Oversight and Community Safety portfolio from January to March 2022.

Provincial Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson, Fransina Lukas, said they welcomed Marais's appointment and believe she has the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to add value to the position.

“We are looking forward to having a very fruitful relationship with her. We also want to meet her as soon as possible so that she can know who the people from the community are,” Lukas said.

Cape Flats Safety Forum chairperson, Abie Isaacs, said they are cautiously optimistic about the appointment of a new MEC, but hoped she will embrace partnership in addressing crime.

“Concern raised pertaining to children being killed due to gun violence and (we) trust the MEC and her department to come up with a comprehensive strategy on this,” Isaacs said.

ANC leader of the opposition in the legislature, Khalid Sayed, said removing Allen and replacing him with Marais was “yet another clear example that the DA in the province does not afford the safety of residents the attention it deserves”.

Sayed said Allen was arguably the best-performing MEC and was able to foster valuable working relationships with SAPS and municipalities across the province.

“His reappointment would have boded well in the GNU context.

“He was visible and on the ground, engaging communities plagued with high levels of crime,” Sayed said.

GOOD Party secretary-general Brett Herron said Marais has life and professional experience, which the role demands.

“If the communities most affected by crime are to see an improvement in their safety then MEC Marais will have to address the childish gimmicks that are announced as crime reduction game changers but poor which have failed,” he said.

“We hope that this experience will lead to the Western Cape Government managing community safety with maturity and common sense.”

Sayed added many communities have already complained about Allen’s removal.

Responding to the parties, Marais spokesperson, Jan-Jan Joubert, said Marais knows the structure, regulations, opportunities and challenges of the department.

Asked about what the MEC’s top priorities are in the position, Joubert said Marais is currently meeting with the leadership team of the department and will speak to these once she has had an opportunity to engage.

“Minister Marais believes that she has what it takes for this task.

“This is a huge responsibility which, if executed well, can really make a difference in the lives of every person in the Western Cape on an everyday level,” he said.

Joubert described the ANC’s “unfounded personal attack” as not their finest hour.

“Minister Marais knows the realities of crime on the Cape Flats, as the majority of people in places like Ravensmead, Uitsig and Valhalla Park can testify. She remains involved in those communities, and treasures the many friendships she has made,” Joubert said.