By Bobby Stevenson (MPL), Shadow MEC for Safety and Security:
An improvement in the number of SAPS members who have valid driver’s licences is good news for overall policing in the Eastern Cape. Over the past three years, the number of police officers without driver’s licences have dropped from 7 602 to 3 797 according to a reply to a legislature question I asked the MEC for Safety and Liaison, Weziwe Tikana.
However, the efforts of high visibility policing in this is province are still hampered by a shortage of vehicles and the 3 797 members of the SAPS who do not have driver’s licences. All members of the SAPS need to get to where the action is.
High visibility policing is dependent on SAPS members with valid driver’s licences. High visibility policing is recognised to cut the crime rate by up to 40%. This is a key ingredient of making communities feel safe.
When communities feel safe, they experience the freedom we should all have under our constitution. This freedom means children can play safely in the streets, women don’t have to fear being raped and all of us don’t need to barricade ourselves in at night as a safeguard against intruders. Where the terror exits of the criminal element there is no freedom.
The DA welcomes the K53 Driver and Learners initiative by SAPS in conjunction with the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA) to train all SAPS operational members.
This programme must be rapidly expedited to ensure that the services rendered by the SAPS is the best it can be, especially when it comes to visible policing. Such critical services cannot be hampered by a shortage of officers who are able to drive.
The high crime rate in this province negatively impacts on the environment for investment and economic growth. Unless we can stamp out crime, jobs will continue to decline.
An effective police service is the first line of defence in keeping our society free from the scourge of crime.
The DA reiterates its view that high visibility policing along with rapid response units and a well-trained and -resourced police service will reduce crime and result in criminals being nailed and jailed.