By Bobby Stevenson (MPL), Shadow MEC for Safety and Security:
The fight against gangsterism in the Port Elizabeth Northern Areas must be treated as a war. It needs one central champion that will implement a multi-disciplinary approach which involves all stakeholders.
When I met with the provincial police management last week, with the legislature portfolio committee on safety and security, I raised this matter and pointed out that there needs to be a single champion that bring all the role-players together.
The DA believes that the following steps will assist in eradicating the scourge of gangsterism in the Northern Areas:
- A total ban on all cell phones into St. Albans prison including people who work there. Police complain that hits and intimidation of witnesses are organised from St. Albans. This ban has been successfully implemented in Mangaung prison in Bloemfontein.
- Fix the CCTV cameras that are not operational in the northern areas. This is the job of the municipality.
- Ensure that Gelvandale police station has the required number of vehicles. When we visited them last week, we were informed that only 10 of their 24 allocated vehicles were operational that day.
- Expedite the opening of the new police station in the Booysenspark area. For two years I have been campaigning for a satellite police station in that area to alleviate the pressure on Gelvandale and Bethelsdorp police stations. We were told by the provincial commissioner that a fully-fledged police station would be opened in that area and that they were busy negotiating land from the municipality. This process must be speeded up.
- Prosecution services and the police need to work closely together so that gangsters are not given easy bail and released back into communities where they can intimidate witnesses.
- Whereas we congratulate the SAPS on the 479 arrests since 2013 in gang-related crimes, they alone cannot combat gangsterism. The task team appointed by the Premier needs to start delivering results. The key job of this task team needs to be to the co-ordination of the efforts of police, prisons, prosecution authorities as well as social development, education, the municipality and community organisations.
All have a role to play in implementing programmes and strategies to combat gangsterism. Unless they are co-ordinated under the leadership of one person, with the necessary drive, commitment and political will, we will not win this war. A simple example of what the department of education needs to do is monitor drop-out rates at school and ensure that when learners drop out, they are brought back to school and do not become labour pools for gangsters.
- Fighting gangsters and drugs is a highly specialised task and the DA believes that the specialised national anti-gang and anti-drug units need to be re-established. They were disbanded in 2002 with fatal consequences.
- Implement a metro police services. The City of Cape Town metro police service has specialised anti-drug and anti-gang units.
The DA is passionately committed to the right of all people in the Northern Areas to live in a safe environment. Children should feel free to play where they want and families should go to bed at night knowing they are safe.
A DA government would implement a multi-disciplinary approach and get the necessary results.