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Opinionista

Crime will not be solved by political point-scoring

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Alan Winde is Western Cape Premier.

During his State of the Nation debate speech, Police Minister Bheki Cele laid the blame for crime in our poorest and most vulnerable communities at the feet of the Western Cape Government. Crime is not a party-political issue and will require co-operation between all three spheres of government if we are ever to holistically solve the complex issues of crime that are plaguing the Western Cape.

The people of the Western Cape, who have fallen victim to crime, have lost loved ones and who live in fear as criminals run rampant, deserve better than a game of political point-scoring.

In the interests of our citizens, we have now re-opened various lines of communication between ourselves and the national leadership and in so doing made progress towards a united front against crime. I welcome Minister Cele’s commitment to the deployment of an additional 1,000 police officers, from 5,000 currently undergoing training, to the Western Cape.

I am therefore puzzled that in his speech in Parliament Minister Cele chose to focus again on playing the blame game.

As a province, we acknowledge that achieving a lasting solution on crime in the province will take a concerted effort at every level of the state and involves more than just the allocation of more feet on the street, and includes better crime intelligence and prevention, education, social development, spatial planning and design initiatives and the creation of economic opportunities. We fully intend to commit our time and resources to applying those functions which sit with this provincial government, but policing is an exclusive national competence, where our role is oversight alone.

Notwithstanding Minister Cele’s attack on the DA in Parliament, I have elected not to respond in a similar vein and rather work towards co-operation.

I will, however, point out that it is the SAPS which the Equality Court recently found to be allocating police resources in a way that discriminates against residents based on race and poverty in the Western Cape, including those living in areas like Khayelitsha. It is this resource allocation model that I hope we can fix by working with SAPS.

As regards the CCTV concerns raised by Minister Cele in Parliament in which he claimed that the high crime rate in areas like Khayelitsha can be attributed to the poor CCTV camera system and lighting, I have made some enquiries of the City in this respect and while we acknowledge that even more needs to be done, I am informed that the City of Cape Town finances and operates a sophisticated CCTV operation which is one of the largest on the African continent and it currently operates at international benchmark levels.

Using this system of cameras, during the period between December 2018 and February 2019, 4,211 incidents were detected. Around 36% of these were of a criminal nature. Staggeringly, a total of only 64 arrests were then made. A detection rate of 6% is abysmal in cases where CCTV footage of the crime exists.

I am told that the reason for this low arrest rate is that the SAPS is currently not making effective use of the evidence from the cameras and the technology that exists in the City, despite this being fully funded by the City. We could have a network of thousands of cameras in each suburb, but if the police are not making use of them, they are not being used to their full potential.

Khayelitsha currently has 24 CCTV cameras, but the CCTV master plan is currently being revised to take into account crime statistics, and population figures, which means that high crime areas in the city will receive additional resources. We will work with the City in the hope of speeding this up and at the same time work with SAPS to ensure that they can, and do, make full and effective use of this vital resource, not only in Khayelitsha but throughout the entire city.

It is my hope that despite his comments, Minister Cele and the SAPS will assist us in this regard, tap into this resource, and continue to keep the lines of communication open between the provincial and national leadership. We need to continue to meet, negotiate and find common ground.

Political bickering only benefits criminals who are ready and eager to exploit the gaps in the provision of safety and security services. DM

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