Political Opportunism Hindering Policing

Mark Wiley MPP DA Western Cape spokesperson for Community Safety Recently, Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel visited Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain to ‘report back’ and to discuss solutions to gangsterism, substance abuse and violence. Accompanying him was the Provincial Police Commissioner, General Lamoer. If Minister Manual was just another citizen one could understand his concern about the horrendous levels of violence, abuse and gangersterism terrorising many in these huge residential areas. But he is not. He is, and has been for some 15 years, a Minister in the ANC government – for many years the Minister of Finance. Under his watch the police budget grew stratospherically from single digits to over R 60bn and police numbers shot up from 125,000 to close to 200,000. Yet the complaints about poor policing standards and service delivery, vigilante justice and lack of SAPS support for CPF’s and allied infrastructure were again major topics. The question is, why has the ANC government not addressed these aspects in the extraordinary growth in the SAPS budget? A few years ago SAPS insisted on taking back control of CPFs, but have failed to capacitate them. In years past, because SAPS failed to support CPF infrastructurally, the Department of Community Safety had to step in and give them annual admin allowances – under threat of censure by the AG. This had to be stopped as a result. Similarly, despite rampant growth in gang activity in recent years, together with a massive spike in the drug trade, SAPS closed down the anti-gang and drugs units and refuse to re-open them. Why is this? Gen Lamoer said that the “police relationship with communities was improving but residents had to have more trust in them”. Respectfully, this is simple denialism. The reason why Min Manuel and others were there was because of a total breakdown in trust in SAPS that has seen maybe 100 vigilante killings in the area in the last year, two this last week alone. NGOs and CBOs have petitioned the Premier for an inquiry. After months of non-response from the ANC government -and General Lamoer, the Premier appointed a Commission of Inquiry into a lack of SAPS service delivery in Khayelitsha. The ANC, via Police Minister Mtetwa, has opposed this vehemently; the matter is now in the Constitutional Court. Similar opposition has been voiced against the Community Safety Bill -” because it will make the public “informers for politicians”. On the contrary, the Community Safety Bill will legally fill the void left by police apathy – and put a spot light on the reasons why so many things have gone wrong in the fight against crime in this Province and that has led to such dangerous levels of public frustration.

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