This article first appeared in the 1 July 2022 edition of the Cape Argus newspaper.
Cape Town - The Department of Community Safety and Police Oversight says it is working hard to repair and restore the relationship between local communities and SAPS.
Since stepping into office, MEC Reagen Allen has valiantly spoken about his intentions to ensure his department directs its efforts to configure better policing services for local communities, as lack of trust in the police is at an all-time low.
Allen recently reiterated his stance on fostering relations with SAPS in response to questions from Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport standing committee member Ferlon Christians (ACDP).
Christians questioned whether police officers were provided with training to raise their vigilance.
The SAPS responded through Allen by stating that the police ministry offers various courses focusing on raising vigilance, such as tactical response, the first responder course, crowd management and self-defence courses, among others.
However, despite the seemingly positive response from SAPS, the Department of CSPO says the Western Cape Police Ombudsman (WCPO) received 470 complaints between 2021 and 2022 regarding SAPS officers' lack of vigilance in local communities.
Allen said of the 470 complaints that were finalised, only 31% were substantiated.
He said: “The department regularly engages with the community and with community structures to obtain feedback on the police and their safety concerns.
“We hold consultative engagements with stakeholders to determine the policing needs and priorities. The comments are captured in a report which is shared with the SAPS. This report focuses on trends and makes recommendations to address these.
“We regard these engagements as critical, as they ensure that SAPS are not only held accountable but also help to strengthen their hand in the overall fight against crime. In some instances, there is a trust deficit between communities and the SAPS.
“Part of our aim is to close this gap so that criminals do not take advantage of these issues. Our fight is against crime and all those who make themselves guilty of it. It’s vital that we all stand together and always keep in mind who and what the real enemy is,” Allen said.