MORE than 6 000 police officers nationally were tasked with protecting a few “important” people, most of them politicians, while many police stations in poor communities were faced with stark resource shortages, the Khayelitsha Commission heard yesterday.
Most of the severely under-resourced stations were in poor “coloured or black” areas, prompting commission chairwoman Justice Kate O’Regen to remark that this list of stations read like “an apartheid list”.
In her testimony, Jean Redpath, of the Community Law Centre at the University of the Western Cape, told the commission there were “anomalies” in the allocation of resources in the SAPS and that the process used was not fair. “The under-resourcing 20 years after apartheid is still unconscionable and irrational.”
One allocation Redpath questioned was the deployment of 6 363 officers to the VIP protection unit. The unit, tasked with protecting the president and other parliamentarians, took up a “relatively” huge amount. “There are 6 363 officers that we are using to protect our important people and so there is a related question: Is that rational?” Redpath asked.
She argued that the Theoretical Resource Requirement, a formula used to determine allocations, was irrational.
For example, she said, Harare had the lowest number of police officers per 100 000 people (111: 100 000) in the Western Cape, while Camps Bay had almost 1 000 officers per 100 000 people. Other stations on the list of poorly resourced stations included Nyanga, Kraaifontein, Gugulethu and Delft.
Redpath also presented the commission with her own formula, which she calculated using data supplied to the commission by police management. In coming up with her figures she looked at the population each station served, the incidence of crime, and the actual crime rate. The formula identified that the two police stations in Khayelitsha were faced with resource shortages that put them at a major disadvantage compared with stations with fewer needs.
For instance, Redpath said, Harare was short 252 police officers and Site B Khayelitsha needed an additional 129 officers to function optimally.
Current figures for the stations were 192 and 294 respectively. The third police station, Lingelethu West was correctly resourced.
Justice O’Regan said it was concerning that such inequality had continued 20 years after democracy.
In her report, Redpath said Harare had the lowest number of police officers per 100 000 people of all police stations in the Western Cape.
“There is a problem with the allocation. It is supposed to be based on the burden of policing and if you are resourcing Harare at the lowest per 100 000 people, then you are suggesting the burden of policing is lowest in Harare and clearly on a common sense approach, that is not the case,” Redpath said.
Using her formula, Redpath suggested moving resources from over- to under-resourced stations. For instance, a station like Claremont could lose 78 officers, Camps Bay 35 while 61 could be taken from Sea Point
But the formula was disputed by police representative advocate Norman Arendse SC. He said it was “too simplistic” and did not consider the complex nature of an organisational structure like the SAPS.
It did not seem fair to take away resources from those stations as the resource allocation was justifiable, Arendse said.
Later, Johan Burger, of the Institute for Security Studies, said adding resources to the police would not necessarily mean a reduction of crime.
The hearing continues.