By Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety:
The release of the national annual crime statistics today by the National Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, and National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, shows that the South African National Police Service (SAPS) is fighting a losing battle against violence and crime in South Africa and particularly in the Western Cape.
General Phiyega’s admission that the Western Cape is one of the lowest performing provinces in terms of policing is extremely worrying and warrants both herself and Minister Nhleko to answer on the SAPS’ operational effectiveness.
I fully support the efforts of Acting Provincial Police Commissioner, Major General Thembisile Patekile, and the dedicated men and women in blue who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect all who reside in the Western Cape.
Their dedicated efforts are, however, continuously undermined by National SAPS management who seems unwilling to adequately resource the police in the Western Cape, and effectively partner with communities and the Western Cape Government.
The Western Cape’s crime statistics show that the province is experiencing excessive increases when compared to the national year-on-year percentage changes. For 2014/15, the Western Cape recorded a:
- 7% increase in murder against a national increase of 4.6%;
- 4% increase in attempted murder versus a national increase of 3.2%;
- 6% increase in robbery with aggravating circumstances, 8.5% national increase;
- 5% increase in arson against a national decrease of 6.1%;
- 7% increase in malicious injury to property, 2.3% increase nationally;
- 2% increase in reported illegal possession of firearms and ammunition against a 1.6% decrease nationally;
- 8% increase in drug related crime against 2.4% increase nationally;
- 60% increase in carjacking, 2% national increase;
- 55% increase in truck hijacking, 29% national increase; and
- 9% increase in robbery at residential premises against a national increase of 5.2%.
Every increase in a crime statistic is another person in the Western Cape whose life, livelihood and general safety has become under threat.
The crime realities the province is facing have been well documented through the annual Provincial Policing Needs and Priorities (PNPs) determination process led by the Department of Community Safety. The constitution requires the Western Cape Government to inform the National Police Minister on the results of the PNPs to determine national policing policy. The latest PNP report indicated that the people of the Western Cape needs more police vehicles, more police officers, additional police infrastructure, the re-establishment of the specialised units and improved police accessibility.
Yet we see no real, implementable action plan from the National SAPS management on how to effectively combat these increases.
The National SAPS management has also chosen to not disclose the station level crime statistics which leaves our communities ill prepared to address crime realities in their own areas.
National SAPS management’s attempts to tell a good story of improving crime conditions over the last five years, or even ten years, are no appeasement for every person who has fallen victim to crime in the Western Cape in the last year.
Our province has serious problems that have been left unattended by the National SAPS management for far too long. For the 2014/15 financial year, the Western Cape recorded the:
- Highest percentage contribution of drug-related crime to the country (34%) and year-on-year increases since 2005/06.
- Highest counts of murder for the last 11 years (3 186).
- Highest percentage increase for attempted murder (11.4%) and year-on-year increases since 2009/10.
- Highest percentage increase in truck hijacking (55%) and year-on-year increases since 2009/10.
- Highest percentage increase for common assault (5.3%) and year-on-year increases since 2010/11.
- Highest percentage increase in robbery with aggravating circumstances (18.6%) and year-on-year increases since 2010/11.
- Highest percentage increase in malicious injury to property (10.7%) and year-on-year increases since 2010/11.
- Highest percentage increase in carjacking (60%) and year-on-year increases since 2010/11.
- 2nd highest percentage increase in murder (9.7%) and year-on-year increases since 2011/12.
- 2nd highest increases in assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm (5.6%) and year-on-year increases since 2012/13.
- 2nd highest percentage increase in robbery at residential premises (14.9%) and year-on-year increases since 2005/06.
This is the safety reality of many people in the Western Cape on a daily basis. This is the reality within which the Department of Community Safety is actively trying to help create safer environments for people to live, work and move about in.
We have adopted a whole-of-society approach to increasing safety in the province. I welcome the National SAPS management’s calls for all to take a united stand against crime but urge them to lead the way. It remains unacceptable that the voices of the people of Khayelitsha are still undermined more than a year after the conclusion of the O’Regan Commission of Inquiry – due to National SAPS Management’s slow response.
The Western Cape Government partners with communities and organisations around targeted interventions to improve safety yet the National SAPS management, as recently as the last two weeks, conducted numerous visits to the Western Cape without including the local or provincial government safety counterparts.
The Department of Community Safety will continue to partner with the religious fraternities through the Youth Safety and Religious Partnership (YSRP) programme and with the educational institutions such as our Chrysalis Academy and our partnership with the FET colleges, such as Northlink. We will continue to partner with the non-governmental organisations working in our communities and our safety partners, such as the Neighbourhood Watches and Community Policing Forums. We will continue to capacitate these organisations to help build the necessary united front which is needed to combat crime.
I will continue to call for the re-instatement of the specialised units such as the gang and drug units to combat the scourge of drugs and gangs in our communities. I still believe the SAPS reservist has to be brought back to assist SAPS in their tasks and help increase visible policing efforts.
The crime reality in the province cannot be left to continue unabated. It is a reality in which the National SAPS needs to ensure adequate policing resources. This is the only way to reassure the people of the Western Cape that their safety is a priority. Most importantly, SAPS need to partner more effectively with communities and the provincial government if we are to see a turnaround in the current situation.