‘Provincial police idea delusional’
THE DA has come under fire for calling for the establishment of a provincial police force in the Western Cape.
But some experts believe decentralising the police would be the answer to the province’s high crime rate.
During the party’s registration drive in Bonteheuwel recently, leader Mmusi Maimane said the premier candidate and Community Safety MEC Alan Winde would fight for a provincial police force that could best serve the communities of the Western Cape.
But Police Minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson lambasted the DA, saying it should focus on service delivery for the people of the Western Cape and “leave policing matters to the police”.
“The Western Cape province has been and continues to be top priority in crime-fighting measures. Operation Thunder is yielding positive results,” Reneilwe Serero said.
She added the Constitution stipulated that the policing mandate was given to SAPS, and therefore it was the responsibility of the police to prevent, combat and investigate crime.
Maimane commended the City of Cape Town’s head of safety, JP Smith, for setting up a “specialised unit” to fight crime, sparking an angry response from Bonteheuwel activist Henriette Abrahams.
Abrahams said: “The DA must stop being delusional. They don’t serve us. Most people are jobless, homeless and are victims of violence.
“We don’t see Smith, the metro police and his law enforcement agents on our streets. The whole talk about the alleged success is about getting our votes.”
She said she expected Smith to conduct a crime-prevention drive in the area, as a by-election would be held in Ward 31 on January 16.
“Let it be known that neither JP (Smith), (mayor Dan) Plato, (Premier Helen) Zille or their DA head, Mmusi (Maimane), have responded to any of our demands in our various protest actions over the last couple of months,” she added.
Communities on the Cape Flats, including Bonteheuwel, took to the streets last year in protest over crime and gang violence in their areas, and called for adequate policing.
An anti-gang unit has since been established by the national police minister and deployed in some areas.
Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni agreed that the call for a provincial police force was a “an election ploy” as the DA knew the mandate for policing was defined by the Constitution.
“Why would an exception be made for one DA-led province when we have eight other provinces?” he asked.
But a criminologist at the Centre for Criminology at UCT, Andrew Faull, said he believed a decentralised police force could help heighten accountability.
“I think because we have a top-heavy police, this could lead to a breakdown in command control and accountability,” Faull said.
He called for greater co-operation between the SAPS, the City’s law enforcement agencies and the provincial authorities in creating efficient policing.
A FIRE has gutted more than 30 homes in the seaside town of Betty’s Bay and damaged at least 20 others. Families were forced to evacuate their homes after the blaze in the Overstrand municipal area flared up on Friday after being subdued by firefighters. Residents were evacuated from Betty’s Bay, Hermanus, Franskraal and surrounding farms. See page 3