“I will meet the MEC and the premier can join us if he likes, but there’s a forum where premiers and the president can meet," Police Minister Bheki Cele said. Picture: Phando/Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town - National Police minister Bheki Cele said he was ready to meet Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz immediately after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on June 20 to address ongoing gang violence in the province.

Speaking at the end of a three-hour ministerial stakeholder engagement with community leaders from the Samora Machel informal settlement, Cele said he and Fritz had a good working relationship and had already spoken twice in recent weeks on the telephone about the spate of murders in the province.

“I will meet the MEC and the premier can join us if he likes, but there’s a forum (the president’s coordinating council) where premiers and the president can meet, and I have no business meeting with the premier.”

Referencing last year’s Operation Thunder, during which it was reported “over 91 114 arrests were made in 17 areas around the Cape Flats”, the minister said he had been “taken aback by the lack of appreciation” of the province’s police in the fight against crime and that “people should stop lying about crime in the province”. 

He said his detractors were using “the Nazi Joseph Goebbel’s propaganda technique: if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it.”

Speaking to community leaders in Samora Machel about their complaints on the issue of visible policing in the area, he admitted there were problems with policing in the province, and said he was working towards improving resources for the Anti-Gang Unit. 

As Bheki was speaking, Premier Alan Winde released a statement in which he said: “The police are woefully under-resourced in this province. In the Western Cape, the police to population ratio is one police officer for every 509 people. In the Cape Town metro, this is even higher at 1:560 against a national average of 1:375.”

“As a province we are doing everything we can, by equipping neighbourhood watches and instituting watching briefs to monitor the court process after an arrest has 
been made. 

“But the reality is that without an effective police service, we cannot make progress toward reducing the murder rate.”

Mwangi Githahu

[email protected]

Cape Argus