Cape Town - The increased frequency, and brazenness of the attacks on staff in both the emergency and enforcement services has become a growing issue for the City of Cape Town’s safety and security portfolio committee.
The portfolio committee said that these attacks have the potential to seriously affect service delivery.
Since the end of July, there have been numerous attacks on safety and security services staff members.
These include the murder of two law enforcement officers, two others shot and wounded in separate incidents, an attack on two traffic officers in Philippi, and attacks on firefighters attending to incidents in Elsies River and Kraaifontein.
The metro police department recorded 15 attacks on staff between July and September.
In one incident, a female officer was driving in Delft when the driver of a taxi tried to push her off the road before the occupants started pelting the vehicle with stones. The attackers fled when back up arrived.
In another incident, an officer was bitten by a dog that had been set on him and his colleagues by a crowd in Elsies River.
The officers were trying to arrest a smash-and-grab suspect when some community members became involved, and threatened the officers.
Also between July and September, at least a dozen traffic service vehicles were damaged in protest-related stoning incidents, including two that were petrol-bombed.
Chairperson of the safety and security portfolio committee, councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe, said committee members are unanimous in their condemnation of, and concern for, the safety of the directorate’s staff.
“They work so hard to serve our communities, often in very difficult circumstances, and so it is incredibly disappointing to see how prevalent attacks have become, and also the level of violence directed at staff.
“Yes, there are things like insurance that can compensate for damages, equipment lost and so forth, but there is a far bigger cost that many fail to realise. For every vehicle that has to go for repairs, it is one fewer vehicle available for visible and proactive crime prevention patrols,” Nqavashe said.
“For every staff member attacked, it is days, if not weeks of one fewer officer on duty, responding to the needs of communities. Even where staff are not physically harmed, emotional and psychological trauma cannot be ignored.
“Ultimately, our communities who need these services, are the ones most affected. As the directorate rolls out its bodycams and dashboard mounted devices, it will become increasingly difficult for perpetrators to hide,” said Nqavashe.
“Hopefully these shameless attacks will cease once we start tracking down more of those responsible, and bringing them to book.”