Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has taken issue with claims by Police Minister Bheki Cele that the province has the most policing resources.
Speaking at a police imbizo in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, on Friday, Cele stressed that the Western Cape was the most resourced province in terms of policing and had the “lion’s share” of such support.
Denying Cele’s claims, Winde and his Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said in a joint statement Cele was out of touch with reality.
Winde said Cele’s statement was so misleading that his government had no other option than to respond and set out the facts.
The premier said:
Using the incident to boost the DA-run province’s bid for the devolution of policing powers to provinces, Winde said the minister’s comments clearly demonstrated the importance of devolving policing powers closer to the people, so that actual needs were listened to and addressed by a capable provincial government.
“We stand ready to do so. SAPS officers are not being deployed on an equitable basis throughout the province.”
Winde said if one used a 1 to 225 police-to-population ratio to determine appropriate resourcing as a goal, the province’s poorest communities were grossly under-supported by the South African Police Service.
Winde said police in the province were overworked and detectives had an unacceptable caseload.
“The provincial Department of Community Safety’s SAPS detective assessment report released in 2019 revealed that there was a lack of training and under-resourcing of the detective services in the Western Cape.”
The assessment found that 48% of detectives in the Western Cape had a caseload of more than 200 dockets per person, which was 333% above the norm of 50 to 60. There is currently a shortage of 548 detectives in the province, of which 142 posts remain vacant.
“There is insufficient training provided to SAPS, leading to cases being struck off the court roll,” the statement read.
The Forensic Science Laboratory is also failing to process DNA for criminal cases. There was an unacceptably high backlog in the processing of DNA samples taken after alleged criminal acts. According to a parliamentary reply, this was impacting over 36 000 sexual offices cases in the Western Cape.
“Statements such as these, which can only be explained by last-minute electioneering, only distract from the very serious under-resourcing issues that many areas in the province face. If the Minister of Police will not acknowledge them, we can only assume he is not planning to address them. This is concerning and must be rectified through a correction,” the premier said.
Winde said if Cele was not prepared to do something about police resources, the province was ready to take up the task.
“We have heard our residents’ needs, and we are prepared to do something about it. If Minister Cele is not, he should give us the resources to do so, and we will get the job done,” he added.