We need a concrete plan to deal with violence in Cape Town

08 Jul 2019 in Where We Govern

The City of Cape Town empathizes with residents in Philippi and many other communities that are under siege by criminals.

The murders over the past weekend are the latest in a growing list of victims, with seemingly no respite.

The City and Western Cape Government have continuously highlighted the need for urgent intervention.

Most critical is the glaring and well-documented shortage of resources in the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Every time there is a flare-up of violence, we point to the fact that SAPS in the Western Cape is woefully under-resourced compared to the rest of the country.

Our appeals to national government to address the issue cannot continue to go unheard. We ask – yet again – that they take extraordinary steps to fill the estimated 4 500 policing posts that the Western Cape has lost in the last four years.

To reiterate to the public – the City of Cape Town has but a fraction of the resources of the SAPS. We deploy those resources as best we can in support of SAPS who, by law, are the primary policing agency tasked with crime prevention.

The City’s Metro Police Department is working with SAPS to see how we can most effectively respond with additional operations, but the truth is that there are simply too many hotspots to attend to simultaneously with our limited resources.

We are often accused of not addressing the issue of violence, and gang-related violence in particular.

For the record – in the last decade, the City of Cape Town has exponentially increased its resources to try and fill the policing vacuum that exists in this city.

Most recently, we deployed our second Neighbourhood Safety Team in Bonteheuwel that sees 100 Law Enforcement officers work split shifts in the area, to increase the level of visible policing.

However, the City has limited powers and resources. We cannot investigate crime, nor can we prosecute offenders.

Already we are pouring more resources into an area of responsibility that is not ours; and the demand keeps growing.

As a local government entity, we simply cannot be expected to continue filling the hole that has been left by agencies within other spheres of government.

So, I renew my call upon national government to expedite the recruitment and deployment of additional SAPS officers; to reinstate specialized units to investigate and build solid cases against gangs, and to introduce specialist prosecuting teams who can achieve successful convictions.

I also support the call by the Western Cape Community MEC for military intervention and the declaration of a state of emergency.

We owe it to the thousands of victims of crime in Cape Town to put in place effective measures to curb the lawlessness that continues to rage in many of our communities.