Cape Town - Police Minister Bheki Cele’s decision to withdraw the appeal against the Western Cape Equality Court order that national government is discriminating against poor and black Western Cape residents in how it allocates police resources "cannot be celebrated", Western Cape community safety MEC Alan Winde said on Sunday.
The withdrawal was announced during an interview on Cape Talk radio station on Friday, he said in a statement.
In December, the court found that the system being used to allocate police resourcing was unfairly discriminating against poor and black people in the Western Cape. The remedy had been postponed to a later date.
“Until the Western Cape receives the necessary and required resources, the withdrawal cannot be regarded as a victory. Thousands of people, including innocent children, have lost their lives due to gang violence, yet minister Cele had the audacity to initially appeal the finding," Winde said.
"The minister later realised that he did not have a choice but to concur with the court, admitting that they are deliberately prejudicing residents in our province by refusing to adequately address crime here,” he said.
Referring to new recruits, Cele said that more than 1000 officers would, after this year’s intake, be deployed in the Western Cape.
"I am disgusted to hear minister Cele say that 'I find them very much ungrateful that these extra efforts that are made for the Western Cape don’t mean anything to them'. We [the Western Cape] have welcomed interventions such as operation thunder, the establishment of base camps, and the reintroduction of the anti-gang unit. The minister’s arrogance confirms that the ANC-led government does not care that people are living in fear," Winde said.
The Western Cape was short of 4500 police officers. The provincial police-to-population ratio was one officer for every 509 residents and in Cape Town it was even worse - 1:560. This had to be corrected so that crime-fighting capacity in the province could get close to the national average of 1:375, so that crime could effectively be addressed.
"It is also more than three months since our October letter to minister Cele, who has explicitly ignored our policing needs and priorities report, and despite follow-ups is now embarking on a campaign of misinformation regarding resourcing. This has now reached unacceptable levels and I have instructed our legal team to advise me on the available options that we can take to compel minister Bheki Cele to give us our fair share," Winde said.
"Our offers of R5 million for the reservist programme and the deployment of government officials as commissioners of oaths also still stand, as we want to ensure that police officers are relieved from their administrative duties and are able to focus squarely on visible policing, more patrols, and investigating crimes.
"Our police service must receive the necessary support and resources to make it effective in carrying out its mandate of keeping our people safe. For too long this province has been prejudiced by a vindictive national government at the expense of families who have suffered pain and anguish as a result of crime," Winde said.
African News Agency (ANA)