Police Minister Bheki Cele File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Police have conceded that murders were “out of hand” in the Western Cape.

This emerged when Police Minister Bheki Cele and a number of local community leaders met during a ministerial stakeholder engagement yesterday.

Cele was joined by provincial police management, including commissioner Khombinkosi Jula, and SA Human Rights provincial commissioner Chris Nissen.

Their meeting followed a spike in killings which saw at least 14 people murdered in 24 hours in various areas over the weekend.

Jula said: “Murder has got out of hand, but we have identified the trends and have plans in place. We can confirm 12 attacks on farms have been reported in May alone, and we’re aware of five recent attacks. 

"The problem is mainly in the Cape Winelands and the Boland region. There are arrests and we are following all leads and have re-evaluated the Rural Safety Plan.”

Plans to boost the Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) and Operation Thunder with equipment, additional resources and personnel to curb murders were also in the pipeline.

Cele said the AGU would now spread to other areas in the metro because crime kept on shifting to different communities.

“The Anti-Gang Unit does not have enough manpower and we never said it will be the answer to every problem we have at once.

“I had a very good relationship with former community and safety MEC Dan Plato and am hoping to have the same with MEC Albert Fritz. 

"We have spoken twice already over the phone and agreed to meet so we can work on the problems in the province.

“The police ministry have met and agreed to change the focus approach and have better resources both in terms of personnel and hardware, to take over the Cape Flats. 

"We have tried to increase resources in this province more than other provinces in terms of the AGU and Operation Thunder. 

"Improving and shifting resources in communities will not only be done in the Western Cape, but in other provinces too,” said Cele.

Operation Thunder, in terms of which members of specialised units are deployed to various areas across Cape Town, was introduced last year, along with the AGU. According to Cele, the situation in the province would have been worse without these two initiatives.

Cele also admitted the six-month-old Samora Machel police station had problems after receiving complaints about delays in officers responding to call-outs, no police visibility and an alleged corrupt police officer.

He encouraged residents to get evidence of this by taking videos in order to take action against the officers.

Nissen announced preparations for an inquiry into gang killings.

Cape Times