Members of the public are losing faith in SAPS, citing late responses to incidents, not taking cases seriously, among other reasons. Picture: Gary van Wyk/INDEPENDENT.
CAPE TOWN - Members of the public are losing faith in the police, citing late responses to incidents, not taking cases seriously and not protecting whistle-blowers, among other reasons.

Many say they have turned to neighbourhood watches, Community Policing Forums (CPF) and the City's Metro Police to respond to incidents, instead of SAPS.

Western Cape police ombudsman Vusi Pikoli said his office had received more than 1 000 complaints against the police, which range from poor communication to poor response time and general bad behaviour.

Pikoli said the majority of the complaints, about 65%, are from the Cape metro. “The work we do, we tend to police inefficiency, we want them to be able to look at their work and see where they can improve, so that there is more public confidence and trust in (the) work of police, therefore enhancing (the) work of police. Part of our job is to ensure there is a good partnership between police and community.” He added that the lack of resources could be one of the reasons for the state of the police.

“Some complaints we get say there are not sufficient cars or manpower, others say it is incompetence at times and they are not doing their work properly.”

Manenberg CPF chairperson Roegshanda Pascoe said the community had been complaining about the police responding late to incidents, even taking hours to respond to a call.

“I respect them for putting their lives on the line, but they need to take people's cases seriously, because people sometimes hesitate to go to the police as they are not sure if it will be taken seriously or not.”

Pascoe said their biggest problem was gangsterism and while the community wants to help, they can't as they are not afforded anonymity when providing tip-offs to the police.

“There is even a new thing. When they come to your house they don't enter the house, they stand outside and residents feel they become targets, as neighbours can hear what they are reporting.”

She said witnesses also feel they are not protected by police. “For as long as there is no good relationship between the police and the community, it will be hard to combat crime.”

Mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services JP Smith said the City’s Metro Police are under-resourced, just like the police, but added that they find a way to respond faster for the benefit of residents.

“I wouldn’t say that we are perfect, but the reason there were no complaints from people is because there is a high level of discipline and no political interferences.”

He said corruption in their force is very low and there were statistics to back him up. 

Smith said there are more police officers than metro officers and he wishes that one day they could get more resources. “We are limited and we want to do more, because we can see that we have made a difference.” 

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato has acknowledged the lack of resources SAPS has. “I think the main concern is that the police resources are not effective. I have visited many communities and they too have picked up the same problem.”

Cape Argus