Cape Town – Newly appointed Western Cape Minister for Community Safety Alan Winde says 85% of police stations in the province are understaffed.
Winde, who replaced newly elected Mayor Dan Plato and is the DA's candidate for premier of the Western Cape, was speaking following a meeting with the provincial police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula to map out future joint crime-fighting strategies, the SABC reported.
Lamenting the shortage of police officials in the Western Cape compared to other provinces, he said the provincial average police member to population ratio is 1 to more than 500 residents.
From 2013, he said, the number of police personnel has been reduced from 22 000 to 21 000 officials, hampering crime-fighting efforts.
According to the latest crime statistics, 83% of all gang-related murders in the country occurred in the Western Cape.
Plato told the Cape Argus this week: “Now that we have the specialised gang unit, I want to see it become a permanent function of the police in this province and in this city. I will be watching closely and if that gang unit is removed I will be the first to call for its return.
"With regard to the low levels of policing in this city, we cannot allow a situation where in the rest of the country there is one police officer for every 369 people, but in Cape Town there is only one police officer for every 560 people,” he said.
“In some communities, such as Nyanga, this number jumps to one police officer for every 628 residents.
“If the national government does not urgently address this, we will take the legal route to force them to give our communities more police officers because we are done asking nicely,” Plato said.
In August, the Western Cape’s standing committee on community safety said it was prepared to approach the courts to force the police to adhere to the public service commission’s recommendations to fill all vital posts within six months.
Commissioner Dr Tholumuzi Luthuli presented the committee with his report on the staffing problems in the province where 85% of the stations are under-resourced.
Police Minister Bheki Cele has said he planned to approach the National Treasury to get funding to appoint more officers.
The South African Policing Union (Sapu) has welcomed his decision, saying the workforce was heavily overloaded.
“The lack of personnel in the police compromises service delivery. The overloaded personnel are demotivated. The ratio that an officer deals with is highly abnormal,” said Sapu general secretary Oscar Skommere.