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15 August 2018

Today’s briefing by the Public Service Commissioner (PSC) to the Western Cape Provincial Parliament’s Standing Committee on Community Safety shockingly revealed that the Western Cape has 128 understaffed police stations, meaning that 85% of police stations in the Province are understaffed.

It is unacceptable that the province with South Africa’s highest murder rate, and with the country’s highest incidents of gang-related crime is so severely incapacitated by a National Government that fails in its constitutional duty of care. Crime ravages our communities in the Western Cape because National Government continues to fail us.

The Standing Committee on Community Safety agreed that they will request that the National Commissioner of Police, General Khehla Sitole and the Western Cape Provincial Commissioner of Police, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Elvis Jula, to appear before the committee, to explain why the PSC’s recommendations to adequately staff our police stations has failed to take place.

It is deeply concerning that the SAPS are well aware of the recommendations made by the PSC but have failed to respond to any of the findings highlighted in the report.

In the Western Cape the police to population ratio has worsened from 1 police officer to every 385 people in 2016, to 1 police officer to every 509 people in 2018. Currently each officer is now serving on average 124 more residents than in 2016. In addition, the police to population ratio here is much worse than the national average which is one officer for every 369 residents.

Furthermore, the PSC has recommended that critical vacant SAPS posts must be filled within a six month period.

Policing is a national government function, and it is through oversight institutions, such as the PSC and legislatures that inefficiencies and ineffectiveness can be earmarked for improvement. The SAPS, both at National and Provincial Level, simply ignored the requests for information from the PSC.

Other points were highlighted:

In 2013 that the Western Cape Province had a shortage of 1012 police officers, in comparison to the next highest province, Gauteng, with 748 officers.
In 2014, the Western Cape had 2392 vacancies.
The SAPS recruitment rate is insufficient to meet replacement levels, which has a negative effect on addressing under-resourcing
The disbandment of specialist units, including a reduction in Public Order Policing numbers, has placed a burden on officers at station level.
The lack of visible policing (VISPOL) officers leaves health care workers exposed to potentially volatile gang activity.
The WC will have less SAPS officers, per year, for the foreseeable future.
The ongoing decline in police officers, including detectives at station level is affecting both efficiency and morale.

Furthermore, The Standing Committee on Community Safety in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature will request the PSC to submit an additional report, this time, taking crime statistics and the significant increase in population being experienced in the Western Cape into account.

The DA in the Western Cape believes every citizen of South Africa deserves to live in a society free of crime regardless of where they live. In order to achieve this, police management at national government must address the severe under-resourcing in the Western Cape immediately, before crime worsens.

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