FOCUS ON PRIORITIES: Public Service Commission has given Western Cape police six months to fill critical vacant posts, failing which they might face litigation. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - As the bloodletting from gang shootings continue on the Cape Flats and elsewhere in the city, an investigation has revealed that 21 police stations, including the ones with the highest murder rates, have less than one officer for every 500 residents.

The investigation was done by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and presented to the provincial standing committee on community safety. The commission has given Western Cape police six months to fill critical vacant posts, failing which they might face litigation. Public Service Commissioner Tholumuzi Luthuli said posts in the province decreased from 22 633 in 2013 to 20 969 in 2017/18. In March 2015, there were 22 038, but only 20 604 posts were filled.

“The filling of posts would fall within the jurisdiction of the provincial commissioner. The fact that there is a fundamental difference between the number of posts determined in terms of the theoretical human resource requirements (national benchmark) and the fixed establishment, should not have an impact on the filling of posts within the province,” Luthuli said.

He said the national police department was set to reduce the number of police officers from 193 431 in 2017/18 to 191 432 in 2020/21.

“(This is being done) in order to remain with the government’s expenditure ceiling for compensation of employees. It is clear that the allocation of human resources will be impacted negatively,” Luthuli said.

He added provincial commissioners, according to legislation, have command and control over the service.

“The strength (manpower) can be determined by a provincial commissioner which include the allocation of (human) resources.”

The national and provincial police management is to report to the committee in six months. The report also found in 2013 that the province had a shortage of 1012 police officers, in comparison with the next highest province, Gauteng, with 748 officers.

Of the problematic policing areas mentioned were Parow, Nyanga and Kraaifontein. Parow Community Policing Forum chairperson Reggie Cannon said the police service was bleeding.

“We are putting more stress on officers who are left in the service while the decay in our communities continue. We need intervention and cannot allow that experienced police officers leave the service, because our communities are (in) tatters,” he said.

“Provincial commissioners’ hands are tied down.

“It is unacceptable that the province with the highest murder rate, and with the country’s highest incidents of gang-related crime, is so severely incapacitated. Crime ravages our communities in the Western Cape because national government continues to fail us,” Wiley said.

Spokesperson to the provincial commissioner Khombinkosi Jula, Brigadier Novela Potelwa, referred queries to the national office, who did not respond to the report.

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Cape Argus