The City of Cape Town is committed to building and expanding Cape Town’s policing powers and resources due to the failings of the national police service and Cape Town Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis feels that this is the only way to keep Capetonians safer.
However, former Cape Town mayoral candidate, Brett Herron has proposed that they give up and shut down local policing like the Safety and Security Investigations Unit (SSIU), reports Politics Web.
According to Hill-Lewis, Herron appears to be working with the aim to undermine Cape Town’s local policing powers with an effort to strengthen the hand of national Police Minister Bheki Cele, with whom Herron’s political party is in partnership at national level.
“If Herron gets his way, criminals and corrupt cops will be let off the hook and residents will pay the price”, says Hill-Lewis.
Hill-Lewis went on to say that far from yielding policing and enforcement powers to the national Minister, this administration is working hard to devolve far more of those powers to Cape Town, where they will be used to better protect residents both from criminals and from the failing national state.
“We know, as does any resident who lives daily in fear of crime, that residents trust and rely on Cape Town’s policing abilities far more than they rely on any other sphere of government. It is regrettable that Herron appears willing to endanger residents by weakening Cape Town’s policing powers for political reasons”, further adds Geordin.
The Mayor feels that residents cannot rely on SAPS to keep them safe. While there are many hard-working SAPS officers, the fact is that it is another national service that is in steep decline, with devastating consequences for the lives of citizens.
The mayor went on to state that Cape Town must and will step into this gap to keep residents safer, because, unlike politicians who seek to centralise policing powers in the hands of Bheki Cele, the city understands that they cannot hope to deliver a city of dignity, safety and shared prosperity so long as people suffer the oppression of violent crime and the constant anxiety that comes with feeling unsafe.
Devolution of power will accelerate over the coming decade – in public transport, electricity, and in policing – and it will happen whether national government likes it or not, because every crucial national service on which the public depends, is failing.
The City’s Safety and Security Investigations Unit is also extraordinarily successful, making Herron’s objections doubly strange. It is because of the work done by the unit that the City of Cape Town maintains its record for the lowest levels of corruption among its policing and enforcement staff.
The SSIU’s role was expanded to deal with criminal cases involving City infrastructure and City Rental Stock where units had been hijacked by gang and criminal activity.
While this remains a priority for SSIU, the unit also functions to assist the South African Police Service (SAPS) and City enforcement agencies with “watching briefs,” which is the monitoring and tracking of registered criminal cases through the courts.
As such, the SSIU is responsible for the deployment of investigators who will perform watching briefs on the firearms and drug-related cases in the 10 crime hotspots to ensure that we secure convictions on these cases.
They act in support of the excellent results being achieved by the nearly-1000 Law Enforcement Advancement Programme (LEAP) officers who are deployed in these hotspots. LEAP, like the SSIU, is an innovation of this government (in partnership with the Western Cape Provincial Government) designed to pick up the slack left by the decline and under-resourcing of the SAPS.
Thanks to the work of the SSIU, the city has been able to:
- Recover 30 hijacked council vehicles between 2020 and 2022
- Achieved 2 920 convictions alongside City enforcement agencies and the South African Police Service (SAPS) between 2016 and 2021
- Conduct watching briefs for more than 23 000 arrests made by City enforcement staff for possession of drugs, driving while under the influence, possession of firearms and ammunition.
- Achieve a large number of meaningful convictions for drug, firearm, copper theft, robbery, extortion and even assisting with Interpol investigations leading to the capture of wanted persons.
“Unlike Herron, this administration is not prepared to sacrifice these law enforcement successes and the safety of Capetonians merely to please Cele and the national government”, Geordin concluded.
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Picture: Twitter / Geordin Hill-Lewis