Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Dan Plato called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to “acknowledge the complete failure of Minister [Bheki] Cele”, adding that the country deserves a police minister who cares about policing and making the lives of South Africans safer.
This comes after comments about the province being the most well-resourced in terms of policing were made last week, which Plato described as “absolutely shameful”.
Since 2018, the number of police in the Western Cape has decreased, while the population has increased, along with their policing needs. In 2021, SAPS reported that they had 19 391 SAPS staff – 511 less than the 2018 total of 19 902 personnel, the City of Cape Town reports. It’s likely that the actual policing numbers are even less in the Cape.
“If the President leaves Minister Cele where he is, then it is clear that he does not really care about protecting the people of this country either. At local government level we have had to shift an increasing amount of our budget into safety services to try and make up for national government’s ongoing neglect of this key sector. Those are funds that could have been spent on other services,” said Plato.
Plato adds that national government is making the situation worse with significant cuts to the police budgets over the next three years. ” These budget cuts that were approved by national government are projected to be a decrease in total budget by R11,9 billion over the next three years,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Alderman JP Smith asked the burning question: “How do they justify shrinking resources when communities face an increase in crime?”
Alderman Smith went on to say that “Failure to make the safety of residents a priority… shows how little the national minister cares for citizens despite the shameful spin of the national minister and his colleagues.”
In an oversight visit to SAPS Grassy Park at the end of September 2021, Reagen Allen, Western Cape Provincial Parliament member, discovered that this station had far less staffing numbers than what was indicated in the policing statistics. The statistics stated that Grassy Park Police Station has 162 police staff, but there’s only 116 staff members at the station.
“There are many good people in SAPS who are trying very hard to do their work and fight crime. The problem is with the resource starvation and budget cuts that is preventing SAPS from serving the people and making them safer,” Alderman Smith adds.