Talk of only ’halving Western Cape murder rate in 10 years’ shocks murder capital
Cape Town – Talk of only halving the crime rate in the Western Cape in the next 10 years has left the Delft Community Policing Forum (CPF) – already in shock after the murder of yet another young woman at the weekend – even more disheartened.
On Friday, MEC Albert Fritz welcomed the 60 officers appointed through the Western Cape Safety Plan – a joint initiative between the City of Cape Town's Safety and Security Directorate and the Western Cape government – to curb the latest spate of gang-related violence in Hanover Park with great fanfare. The initiative is commendable in the absence of effective interventions by the SA Police Service (SAPS), which carries the primary responsibility for safety.
Joined by Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith, Fritz said in a statement it would be ’’accompanied by a range of violence prevention interventions aimed at halving the murder(s) in the province over the next 10 years’’.
The newly deployed officers will enforce by-laws and assist enforcement agencies with crime prevention, which will include stop-and-searches and house searches in conjunction with the SAPS.
The plan will ultimately see the deployment of 500 officers into the ranks of the City's enforcement agencies. A total of 344 officers, excluding senior officers, have already been deployed in places such as Delft, Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Bishop Lavis and Philippi.
Delft CPF chairperson Pastor Charles George told IOL on Monday: ‘’Every time I talk to you it’s like a record that is stuck. Violence against women and children is on the increase and government wants to do a walkabout.”
With Delft police station recording the most murders in the country in the 2019/20 crime statistics – with 3 975 people killed in the Western Cape – George finds it difficult to stomach the thought of only halving the murder rate.
“One life lost is one too many. I am not quite sure how we value the human life these days.
“Are we really going to get serious about crime in this country? The biggest perpetrator in this whole equation is the Justice Department.
’’These guys know that when they commit these gruesome murders, they will just get a slap on the wrist. They end up going to this thing called the Holiday Inn; it’s not a prison any more.
‘’There’s no fear for the justice system, we need to do something drastic and quickly in this country if you want to get the right results.’’
Asked whether the officers deployed in Hanover Park last week would make any difference, based on a similar deployment in Delft, George said: ‘’You can tell me all you want about the type of tree you planted, I look at the fruit.
’’If you look at the number of law enforcement officers that were arrested for corruption, then data is telling government that for every 10 guys that you appoint, three of them are corrupt.
“They need to change their recruitment process. As long as you’re dealing with human beings, you are never going to fix this, but when you start leaning towards technology, technology levels the playing field; it is transparent.
‘’But these guys will keep on fighting crime in the 21st century using 19th-century methodology.’’ (George has long been an advocate for the use of drones.)
Smith said at the launch on Friday: ’’The officers have already made an impact in the areas where they have been deployed and we are confident that this programme will continue to help keep communities safer.
’’While safety is the primary responsibility of the SAPS, the City continues to contribute to filling the gaps left by inadequate police resources. The officers are deployed in areas where assistance is most needed.’’
The operational concept includes a visible enforcement presence, relationship-building with residents, businesses and key community structures, information-gathering on crime patterns and key areas of concern, as well as working with other enforcement agencies.
’’Officers will visit schools, businesses and go door-to-door to build essential relationships with their communities. The officers will not just fight crime, they will be there as a visible deterrent and provide a faster response to crimes or anti-social behaviour.
’’The residents of Hanover Park should know that they can turn to the officers when they need assistance in making their community safer,’’ Smith said.
Fritz said: ’’It must be noted that violence and gangsterism has no place in our society and we do not tolerate or condone it. I have called on residents to report known criminal elements who disrupt the safety of their community.
’’The law enforcement effort as seen here today will be closely linked with a comprehensive violence prevention component.
’’Violence prevention is about working together with all role-players, including parents, schools, NGOs, faith-based organisations and local government to ensure that we permanently stop the violence plaguing our communities from happening in the first place.
’’We will work with young people to ensure that they have access to different kinds of opportunities that will show them a path away from violence, apathy and possible gang influence and involvement.
’’In the coming months we will work together with SAPS, the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan, and law enforcement to implement these integrated violence prevention interventions on a sustained basis.“