During her State of the Province Address on Friday 19 February, Western Cape’s Premier Helen Zille noted that there was only one police officer to every 700 residents in some precincts that are most hit by crime. This is a clear indication that there is a notable deficit in policing resources in the Western Cape and South Africa.
“To put this in perspective, the national average police to population ratio is one officer to 328 people. That is twice as many policemen in relation to population, compared to some of our most crime ridden areas,” she said.
Helen Zille also pointed out that the announcement made by President Jacob Zuma during his reply to the State of the Nation Address debate on the reintroduction of the specialized drug and gun units was an “enormous step forward, ironically to get back to the point we were 10 years ago”.
The Premier commended the efforts of the City of Cape Town’s specialized units, with much regard to its stabilization unit introduced in Manenberg in July which helped reduce crime rate in the city.
“Between July and November 2015, the unit’s presence resulted in a reduction of gang shootings in Manenberg from up to three shootings per day, to just one shooting in four months,” she said.
Through its “Watching Briefs” programme in 25 courts, the provincial government promises to step up its monitoring of police conduct at the prosecution stage this coming year, Helen Zille added.
The idea of monitoring police conduct was started to identify the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of police officers and how they are lacking in their duties, and it won the province an award last year.
“This is a most innovative programme and has increased the rate of criminal convictions by acting as a catalyst towards effective policing and production of the evidence that will stand up in court,” Helen Zille commented.
“In the first quarter of 2015/16 alone, our Watching Briefs unit successfully observed 28 court cases, including cases of possession of firearms, aggravated robbery, murder, and attempted murder where policing inefficiencies were present, such as nine cases of dockets not being available at court and 19 cases of failure of the investigating officer to timorously complete the investigation,” she added.
Premier Helen Zille pointed out that the police had mentioned that at least eight internal disciplinary cases had been opened as a result of the monitoring programme on police officers’ conduct.