Cape Town - With less than a week to go before election day, safety and security issues are foremost in the minds of many city residents.
The greatest wish of activists we have spoken to among those who live in some of the crime-ridden Cape Flats neighbourhoods, is to be heard by whoever is elected the next mayor of Cape Town.
Philippi and Hanover Park Community Policing Forum (CPF) co-ordinator Yaseen Johaar said while the area had recently received 60 Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (Leap) officers who were in the area full time, crime had not decreased.
“Our biggest problem is that there is hardly ever proper engagement with the people. All they ever do is throw money and policing at the problem without talking to us to find out what we really need.
“We are on the ground and see the suffering of the community first hand, but we have little to no input when these decisions on policing are taken.
“If we had input we’d tell them that crime isn’t the root of the problem. Poverty and lack of education, which forces youth into gangs, are the real problems,” Johaar said.
Johaar’s CPF colleague Kashiefa Mohammed said: “The 60 LEAP officers launched by outgoing mayor Dan Plato never once engaged with the community.
“Also since they were launched there has been no decrease in crime. Every weekend since December there has been a murder in Hanover Park. The new mayor had better do a better job than the outgoing one. We’ll be watching,” said Mohammed.
Grassy Park CPF chairperson Melvin Jonkers says the neighbourhood’s municipal rental housing stock is where gangsterism is rife.
He says his greatest wish is for the next mayor and intake of councillors to tackle the issue in tandem with the provincial Department of Social Development and the law enforcement agencies.
“We would also like to see better co-operation between the different law enforcement agencies. Currently, they all work in silos and that is not achieving much.
“We’d like to see the next mayor and their councillors listen to the people’s plight before they start taking action to try and sort out problems,” said Jonkers.
Kensington CPF chairperson Cheslyn Steenberg says his main concern, which the new mayor should have at the top of his list, is CCTV cameras that are linked to and monitored by law enforcement agencies so that there is swift reaction to issues on the ground.
DA mayoral candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis said: “We need to devolve more policing funding from the national government to the City, starting with the R1.7 billion VIP protection budget. We should cut that in half, and give the other half to the City to grow the metro police force.
“I also want to expand the Leap project by recruiting and deploying more officers.”
Western Cape ANC elections deputy head Nomi Nkondlo said: “For the longest of times we have maintained that crime is not a police-only responsibility – the municipalities have an important role to play.
“The ANC will place the people and community crime-fighting structures right at the centre of its strategy to fight crime and create safety,” Nkondlo said.
EFF provincial deputy chairperson Nosipho Makamba-Botya said:
“An EFF-run City will engage the SAPS in the province and assist them with resources in the form of mobile police stations in different townships within the city of Cape Town, which will be expected to operate for 24 hours.
“The EFF municipality will also develop and support community safety forums (CSF).
“Often CSFs get disbanded due to lack of assistance from the police services or lack of support and incentives to continue doing the work.”
Good Party mayoral candidate Brett Heron said: “Over the past 15 years of city government our safety has deteriorated. This is because the crime prevention strategy is exclusively on enforcement and not on addressing the root causes of gangsterism and crime.
“Volunteers in community policing and neighbourhood watches often place their lives at risk trying to keep their communities safer. We will place much greater emphasis on social and community programmes to reduce crime,” Herron said.