Cape Town – The decision to deploy the SANDF in crime hot spots in the province played a role in the Western Cape Policing Forum Board (WCPFB), comprising Community Policing Forums (CPFs), among others, deciding on Thursday to attend this weekend's Crime Summit organised by the Police Ministry.
WCPFB chairperson Fransina Lukas said outside Parliament their leadership had a three-hour meeting on Thursday with Police Minister Bheki Cele, where he assured them that it would not be just another talk shop. They had initially decided to boycott a summit that could just be "another waste of taxpayers money" as the "time for talking is over and the time for action is here".
While Lukas didn't convey all the details of the meeting, she alluded to the "extraordinary" measures that Cele announced after his budget vote on Thursday to bring down the high rate of murders in the Western Cape, saying: "I must already report with my chairperson from Mitchells Plain (Lucinda Evans) that already last night (Wednesday), in the early morning, there was an incident that I saw some of the things that the minister said he would put in place."
Cele announced in Parliament that the SANDF would join a large police contingent to be deployed to several policing precincts. "We'll do that at Khayelitsha, Philippi, East Harare, Gugulethu, Mfuleni, Kraaifontein, Mitchells Plain, Bishop Lavis, Delft, Elsies River, Nyanga…where people have been dying.
"We'll go door to door, we'll collect every illegal firearm, we'll collect all criminals that we want, we'll collect all outstanding criminals that have been on bail and that is happening from two o'clock this (Friday) morning."
The Crime Summit is to be held at the Paarl Police College on Saturday and Sunday, which will be attended by, among others, seven national ministers. The exact agenda is not known yet, but Lukas said a memorandum with a list of demands, with specific time frames attached, would serve as the WCPFB's mandate.
The memorandum's first demand is that a state of emergency needs to be declared in crime hot spots and gang-infested areas.
"As part of the state emergency, we demand a mass deployment of additional resources as a force multiplier to stabilise the affected areas and we want that to happen in the next 48 hours."
The memorandum was handed over to Alvin Rapea, secretary for the police service, during a picket outside Parliament. The memorandum demanded feedback within two weeks.
"The minister gave a commitment that the demands made will be taken into consideration and he is going to respond as you have requested in a positive manner," Rapea said.
Before handing over the memorandum, Lukas said: "We met with the minister this morning and out of this came that the minister will announce in his budget the measures that will be taken to stabilise our communities.
"Because we said we cannot go to a summit whilst our children are dying, whilst our women are dying, whilst our mothers are weeping. We reject another summit that is a waste of taxpayers money.
"The minister convinced us to say this is not going to be just another summit. He gave an undertaking and we trust him and we believe him, and we hope he is not going to disappoint us.
"So we have reconsidered and we have said to ourselves if we want to make a meaningful impact, let's be in there where the decisions will be taken, let's be in there and put our issues on the table.
"We have a list of demands which we will put on the table at the summit, attaching time frames. We ask then for the seven ministers who are going to attend the summit to come and report to the community of the Western Cape.
"On the second issue regarding the management in the South African Police Service. There's a lot of squabbling, infighting and they are not focused on what to do to stop crime in our communities.
"We said that must stop; that is negatively impacting on our communities. We don't see service delivery because they are busy fighting.
"We were given an undertaking by the minister that he will consult the president and very soon there will be an announcement regards to that.
"We've pointed out also to minister that there is enough police vans, there is enough resources, we only need more manpower. Because we find police vans are standing idle because there is no management, we are saying that must end.
In reading out the memorandum to Rapea, Lukas said: "We also demand that all three spheres of government produce an urgent inter-governmental action plan to deal with the environmental design, such as proper roads for our squatter areas where police cannot move.
"We need street lighting in all area across the province, especially in the metro – our streets are dark. Those are the hot spots and breeding ground for criminals.
"We also want our local authority, the City of Cape Town, and other municipalities to invest in the poor areas. They must also put cameras where we stay.
"We also want job creation. What is the problem in our communities? If you go there, half of the community is sitting in the sun. Not because they like it, but because there are no jobs. We also want social upliftment in the identified areas, especially crime hot-spot areas.
"We demand from the Department of Justice that we want special courts for gangsters. No bail for gangsters, long jail sentences and a mass provision of police vehicles and officers to increase police visibility in all affected areas.
"And when we speak about police, we speak about the metro police who are only patrolling in rich areas and not the poor areas. Ironically, we also see in the rich areas private security looking after the rich people while the poor are dying.
"We want to see law enforcement in our communities. The by-laws must also look into what they can do in our communities.
"We call on protection for first respondents to crime scenes. And when we talk about first respondents, it's that van with two police officers that are called to a crime scene.
"In many instances, they are called to their death. They must be protected; there must also be a back-up for them. They must be issued with protected gear similar to a POPs (Public Order Policing) unit.
"We also want government, and I am not talking about national alone but provincial and local also, to pay urgent attention to the safety of the farming communities, our people in the rural areas.
"Because what happens when dinge te warm raak hierso (when things get too heated), they (gangsters) run to the rural areas. We also call for an end to farm murders because the farmers are also our people. Because any dead, it doesn't matters what colour, what race, what gender, what age, it's a death too many.
"We call on the minister and national SAPS commissioner to intervene in the ongoing infighting and instability in the SAPS provincial management. On a provincial level, we have an acting police commissioner, we have a police commissioner who is on leave for how long now, and our people are dying.
"We have them not agreeing on issues while our people in the community are dying and bleeding, while our mothers are crying. They must do what they are supposed to do what they are paid for to do.
"We reject the illegal expulsion by SAPS of our community volunteers in the fight against crime – a case in point is our provincial chair and secretary.
"We are volunteering because we love our community and we hate crime. So we don't need to come and tell us you are no longer, you have served your purpose, you must go.
"We demand that the Western Cape MEC reactivate the Bambanani volunteers (who received a stipend). You know how safe we were with Bambanani, because we took ownership of our own safety.
"We had volunteers on the beaches, we had volunteers on the trains, we had volunteers on the farms, we had volunteers in public transport as a force multiplier to the SAPS. We want them to bring that back immediately."