The release of the crime statistics for the third quarter 2021/22 showed Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein and Harare in Cape Town all recorded significant decreases in the murder rate. This was no accident but a result of crime-fighting initiatives by the City of Cape Town (CoCT) and the Western Cape government which work closely with crime-fighting stakeholders in implementing the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP).
Kraaifontein saw a 40.5% decrease in the murder rate, Nyanga 24.1%, Khayelitsha 21.1% and Harare 14.5%, while the Western Cape as a whole saw a 6.9% decrease in murder.
The significant decrease shows that when we have a willing and capable government with a plan to tackle a critical issue such as crime, positive results can be achieved. In direct contrast, Johannesburg’s largest police precinct, Jabulani in Soweto, recorded a 50% increase in murder. Gauteng as a whole saw an 18.3% increase.
The statistics make it clear that the LEAP, working closely with crime-fighting stakeholders, can make a difference.
Since the inception of the LEAP project in late 2019, the CoCT has seen almost 1,100 additional LEAP officers deployed to crime hotspots in Cape Town, along with various additions to staff, to make our city safer. Furthermore, the City has established a network of CCTV cameras that assists in crime-fighting, and now boasts just more than 2,500 cameras across the city.
Over the past 15 years the municipality has been supporting communities that have accredited neighbourhood watches with resources that help fight crime, such as bicycles, torches and jackets. The municipality’s commitment to supporting neighbourhood watches has resulted in their organic growth across Cape Town – more than 25,000 volunteers have joined their local watches which have now been equipped to help keep their communities safe. Partnerships with the South African Police Service (SAPS), Western Cape government, CoCT, private security companies and residents all contribute towards a safe city.
Cape Town has shown that the effective use of resources coupled with committed partners can achieve significant progress in the fight against crime. In direct contrast, hardly any new SAPS members have been trained in the past two years, as revealed to South Africans in August 2021.
That new SAPS members are not being trained while they experience constant high attrition rates is worrisome for South Africa’s fight against crime. The national lockdown is often used as an excuse, but should never be accepted. In the same period the CoCT adapted to change and as a result 1,500 officers were trained and are now helping to keep Cape Town safe.
Police Minister Bheki Cele doesn’t seem to have a plan to fight crime in South Africa and his ministry has only shown mismanagement coupled with no real plan to arrest the ever-increasing crime statistics across the country. Here’s why minister Cele needs to go:
- Massive staff reductions due to national police budget cuts, which will see the national police force reduced by a further 26,000 officers;
- 10,086 SAPS officers charged with crimes such as rape and murder while only 50 are currently facing suspension since 2012/13;
- South Africa’s DNA backlog amounts to just more than 300,000 cases. This means justice delayed for victims of serious crimes such as rape;
- The SAPS doesn’t seem to be getting a grip on its own firearms and ammunition – 26,025 guns were lost or stolen between 2005 and 2017. Parliament heard in 2019 that just more than three million rounds of ammunition were lost in the Eastern Cape, while about 1.5 million rounds were stolen in Durban in July 2021; and
- No new SAPS recruits have been trained over the past two years, which is a disaster for South Africa’s safety. According to the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service’s capacity report 2018/19, South Africa has one police officer per 376 inhabitants, excluding SAPS administrative staff. The most recent statistics supplied to the provincial government show that the ratio is in fact 560 members of the public to every officer – well below international best practice standards.
It is well worth noting that Cape Town is not perfect and there is still lots of work to be done to improve safety and security in the city. But it is clear that positive strides can be made in the fight against crime when there is a plan to do so. The decrease in the murder rate in Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein and Harare is no accident.
Minister Cele has completely failed on his scorecard and needs to go. Capetonians and South Africa deserve better. DM