National Police Minister, Bheki Cele, MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz and community leaders vowed to work together to fight crime during the launch of the provincial Operational Safer Festive Season in Khayelitsha on Saturday. FILE Picture: BONGANI SHILUBANE. African News Agency (ANA)
National Police Minister, Bheki Cele, MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz and community leaders vowed to work together to fight crime during the launch of the provincial Operational Safer Festive Season in Khayelitsha on Saturday. FILE Picture: BONGANI SHILUBANE. African News Agency (ANA)

Police pledge safety during festive season

By Bulelwa Payi Time of article published Oct 24, 2021

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With the official start of the festive, the Khayelitsha community has been provided with a mobile police station to help curb escalating crime in the area.

The mobile station, unveiled during the launch of the provincial Operational Safer Festive Season, in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, on Saturday, will be deployed in Makhaza, bringing to four the number of police stations serving the greater area.

However, the mobile unit comes eight years after the Makhaza community was promised a "state-of-the-art" police station following a major outcry at an announcement that R107 million was to be spent to revamp the Muizenberg police station - an area that presented less crime than Khayelitsha.

In recent months, Khayelitsha has seen a rise in high levels of crime with mass murders, targeting of foreign business owners by extortion rings and residents caught in the crossfire between warring taxi operators.

National Police Minister, Bheki Cele, MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz and community leaders vowed to work together to fight crime during the launch of the provincial Operational Safer Festive Season in Khayelitsha on Saturday. FILE Picture: BONGANI SHILUBANE. African News Agency (ANA)

With the establishment of 17 new informal settlements, following a spate of illegal land occupations, police resources had also been stretched thin.

On Saturday, SAPS also received 155 vehicles to bolster their resources and strengthen their efforts to fight crime.

National Police Minister Bheki Cele pledged renewed efforts to deal with Gender-based Violence (GBV), cash-in-transit heists and robberies.

He called on police to take a tough stance against criminals.

"When you deal with criminals, be hard on them. Don't die with a firearm in your hands," he told members.

Cele also called on political parties to desist from using the crime issue as an electioneering tactic.

"Let's put aside our differences and work together with communities to ensure the safety of women, children and the most vulnerable," the police minister said.

Cele urged SAPS and the provincial authorities to distribute available resources fairly to end the "tale of two cities" phenomenon, adding that this was, however, not only peculiar to the Western Cape, but also characterised other provinces.

"There's not a single province that has received additional police officers than the Western Cape. We deployed 450 police officers, 200 of whom were special force officers from Limpopo," Cele said in response to calls for deployment of more police.

He warned that police would be deployed throughout the province to ensure compliance with lockdown regulations and the health protocols laid down in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Consumption of alcohol in public spaces is still illegal, the curfew must be recognised and adhered to and people must still wear masks," said Cele.

SAPS conducted raids in Delft, on Friday night, ahead of the launch of the provincial Operational Safer Festive Season in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.  Picture: TRACEY ADAMS. African News Agency (ANA)

Deputy National Commissioner for Policing, Lieutenant-General Fannie Masemola said the operational plan would focus on six areas including the prevention and combating of GBV.

"We must ensure that perpetrators of these crimes against women, children and people living with disabilities.

"We must ensure that we arrest perpetrators and keep them behind bars this season,“ Cele said.

He urged police to "hunt down" those who committed robberies "including repeat offenders".

Masemola said police would also crack down on second-hand-goods dealers to ensure that no illegal activities were taking place, and to search for stolen firearms.

The enforcement of City By-Laws, with a special focus on the sale and use of firearms and ensuring compliance at alcohol outlets, was highlighted.

Masemola said resources would be deployed on the roads to ensure safety.

MEC for Community Safety, Albert Fritz, said as law enforcement officers, they took their duty to defend and protect citizens seriously.

"We want to send a strong warning to criminals - your days are numbered,“ he said.

Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) Chairperson, Ndithini Tyhido urged a "multi-stakeholder" approach to fighting crime, and urged the national, provincial and local government levels to work together.

"The ongoing public spat between these three spheres (of government) affects the morale of communities," Tyhido said.

Tyhido also voiced concern at the "rising number" of vehicles that "stood parked" at police stations because they were waiting for repairs.

He said, the community was also concerned that none of the recommendations from the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry, which investigated police inefficiency, had been implemented.

In a report issued in August 2014, the Commission' report noted a breakdown in relations between the police and the community and recommended that parties work on mending fences.

It also recommended the protection of whistle-blowers from the community and ways to hold the police accountable.

Crime expert, Guy Lamb, welcomed the calls on the different spheres of government to work together as "encouraging" - particularly, after the "public animosity" between Cele and the leadership of the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde.

"There were concerns of politicisation of policing after Winde called for extra powers to establish a provincial police force and Cele has pushed back on these issues,“ Lamb added.

However, he said more was needed to be done in terms of resources, as most of the high crime areas in the country were in the Western Cape.

He cautioned against the "war talk" and said police and communities needed to build better relations.

Lamb urged that the safety operations continue beyond the festive season.

Various organisations including the Business Against Crime, Community Policing Forum in Lingelethu, SA Youth Council, the Youth Crime Prevention Steering Committee and the Junior Provincial Commissioner pledged their support to efforts to fight crime.

Provincial Commissioner Thembisile Patekile pledged that police would work to ensure the safety of citizens, including visitors and holiday-makers.

"Criminals will feel our pressure," Patekile warned.

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