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Most of LEAP’s R500m spent on salaries

A learner law enforcement officer earns around quarter of a million rand per annum. Picture: Supplied

A learner law enforcement officer earns around quarter of a million rand per annum. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 17, 2022

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IN THE past three years, the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town have spent more than R500 million on the contentious Law Enforcement Advance Programme (LEAP), with most of the money going to salaries.

A written response to an ANC query on the breakdown of the expenditure on the programme since 2019 revealed that more than R579m had been spent, of which R415m went to salaries.

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The programme was launched as part of the provincial government’s safety plan aimed at halving the province’s murder rate.

The 2020/21 financial year marked the biggest expenditure period with more than R307m and R241m going to salaries. By January, R138.4m had been spent for the 2021/22 financial year, with R104m covering the payroll. But this amount was nearly half of what was allocated in the previous year.

Spokesperson for police oversight and community safety Stacy McLean said even though the budget was cut, the total expenditure was justifiable.

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The ANC in the Western Cape has questioned the provincial government’s LEAP programme and attached costs given the “lack of oversight” and believed that the City should be held accountable for the money invested in the initiative as it had made little difference to areas with high crime rates.

The ANC also called on Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith to be hauled before the legislature quarterly to account for the expenditure, as well as plans to improve safety in gang-infested Cape Flats neighbourhoods.

“This was a rushed process in the creation of a plan that had neither implementation framework nor any monitoring and evaluation mechanisms,” said Mohammed Khalid Sayed.

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“This government’s evidence-based approach should show that there is a need for additional recruitment of LEAP officers in gang-infested communities like Manenberg. The deployment of a reaction unit is not enough. It is in this regard that we call on Premier (Alan) Winde to increase the number of deployed LEAP officers to the original 3 000 as announced in 2019.

“Our biggest criticism of the safety plan remains its failure to address the causative factors of violent crimes. The fact that these violent crimes are taking place in poor working-class communities, and in particular in informal settlements like Enkanini and Endlovini, are not perchance, but by design. The current deployment of LEAP officers must be changed to include patrols in informal settlements.”

McLean said as many as 1 116 LEAP officers were placed across hot-spot areas in 15 high-crime policing precincts, of which 10 were part of police stations dealing with high murder rates. The areas included Delft, Gugulethu, Harare, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Mfuleni, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Philippi East and Samora Machel.

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Currently, 154 officers were being trained. McLean added that close to 90 LEAP staff were deployed at police station precincts on a 24/7 basis.

However, Community Police Forum secretary Phindile George said a lack of monitoring and maintenance of CCTV cameras were a problem as well as the visibility of LEAP officers.

“We’ve been calling on the City to localise the monitoring of the cameras for so long. We also asked that the LEAP officers patrol more regularly, not just once in a while, so that crime can be prevented,” he explained.

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