Minister of Police General Bheki hosted an Imbizo in Mitchells Plain in Cape Town on Friday. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Minister of Police General Bheki hosted an Imbizo in Mitchells Plain in Cape Town on Friday. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape police resources: 'Cele and Winde running politics at the cost of people’s lives'

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Oct 11, 2021

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Cape Town - Police Minister Bheki Cele’s bitter battle with Premier Alan Winde is seemingly far from over.

In the latest salvo, Cele has been slammed after a statement claiming that the Western Cape was the most resourced province in policing.

Winde disputed those claims, saying any person who lives in the Western Cape’s crime hot spots knew all too well that there was not enough police support to fight crime, despite the hard work of many officers on the ground.

He said it was their poorest communities, mostly on the Cape Flats, which were left with inadequate police to population ratios because of a failure by the national government to properly resource them.

Cele made the statement during his Ministerial Imbizo address, hosted in Mitchells Plain on Friday, after residents outlined their demands and policing concerns.

Community members used the platform to discuss and engage the police on the identified crimes – child murders, kidnapping, gender-based violence, gangsterism and drug abuse.

Cele assured residents that their calls were not falling on deaf ears and availing resources and more officers to better police their township and all areas of the Western Cape were ongoing.

He said more still and must be done to squeeze out criminality in Mitchells Plain, but emphasised that the Western Cape enjoyed the “lion’s share” of policing resources aimed at addressing crime concerns raised by communities.

“Out of all the provinces, the province of the Western Cape is the most resourced over and above the allocated provincial budget. We have through our analysis of crime trends made decisions to set-up special operations such as the Anti-Gang Unit, there has also been the introduction of Special operations like Operation Thunder and Operation Lockdown and a task team investigating extortion and taxi violence.”

Winde said Cele’s statement was so misleading that their government has no other option than to respond and set out the facts.

“Failure to respond would allow the national government to opt-out of delivering the actual policing resources which our communities still so urgently need, and which we have been demanding,” he said.

Anti-crime activist Roegchanda Pascoe said Cele and Winde were running politics at the cost of people’s lives.

“The resources they are fighting about do not belong to any of them, but the state of South Africa and should be used accordingly to serve and protect the people of this country,” she said.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said the Equality Court found in 2018 that both the allocation of police human resources and the system used by police to determine the allocation unfairly discriminated against poor people on the basis of race and poverty.

Fritz said that to date the problem has not been adequately remedied. He said the Provincial Department of Community Safety’s police detective assessment report released in 2019 revealed that there was a lack of training and under-resourcing of the detective services in the Western Cape.

He said the assessment found that 48% of detectives in the province have a caseload of over 200 dockets per person, which was 333% above the 50-60 norm.

“There is presently a shortage of 548 detectives in the province, of which 142 posts remain vacant,” said Fritz.

Safety and Security Mayco member JP Smith said he was criticised by Cele for not attending the imbizo, although he was not invited to attend. Smith called Cele to engage them in good faith.

The ANC provincial spokesperson for community safety, Mesuli Kama, said while the DA may want to call the police to account to the legislature, they should also bring Smith and other municipalities to account for their part in creating safer environments.

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