South Africa

Community Safety: Winde sets up his Western Cape anti-crime sweep

Crime and gangsterism in the Western Cape remain a huge worry and Alan Winde, new MEC for Community Safety, is no stranger to the problem. He told journalists on Thursday ‘the word crime comes up time and time again’. He promised to work at creating a safer environment in the province.

A budget shift to fight crime, more meetings between provincial police and the Department of Community Safety as well as visits to police stations in the Western Cape are immediate plans newly appointed community safety MEC Alan Winde intends to implement in a province where gangsterism and crime are rife.

Winde announced his intentions at a press conference held with Western Cape Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula on Thursday, eight days into his new job.

The Community Safety MEC admitted to journalists that there are big issues to face, but he was “getting to grips with the challenges”.

Winde said a provincial cabinet meeting to be held soon would allow budget shifts to focus on issues such as CCTV cameras, especially on the embattled rail network. He was unable to provide dates for meetings or indicate exactly from where and how funds would be shifted to fight gangsterism in the province.

Speaking about the new anti-gang unit formally launched by president Cyril Ramaphosa in Hanover Park earlier in November, Jula said 100 police officers would be stationed in and around Hanover Park. An additional 50 vehicles would also be assigned to the area. Jula and Winde both applauded the launch of the unit as well as the South African Police Service’s intensive intervention and stabilisation programme Operation Thunder. According to the last crime statistics, there were 808 gang-related murders in the Western Cape in 2017-18 — the highest in the country.

When asked if the gang unit would be spread to other parts of the city, Jula said he would like to see the unit cover the 25 gang-infested areas officers have to police in the Western Cape.

Jula said 1,070 new police officers deployed to the province by the national government were a help, but said stations in the Western Cape were still 92.5% under-resourced.

Winde said he and Jula agreed to meeting “at least twice a month to discuss crime-fighting efforts”, adding that they were investigating the quarterly release of provincial crime statistics. More frequently released statistics would provide a clear picture of crime, helping community structures to assign resources to the most prevalent crime categories, said Winde.

Winde said his first meeting with Jula on Thursday focused on the lack of police in the Western Cape and what kind of support the province would give the police when it came to crime-fighting in an area which had one police officer to 509 people.

Next week, Winde will conduct visits to police stations, community policing forums and neighbourhood watches in George, in the southern part of the Western Cape.

Winde also intends visiting police stations in areas reported to have the highest murder rates in the country. Out of the 10 highest reported areas for murder, seven are in Cape Town. These include Harare, Delft, Nyanga, Mfuleni and Philippi East. Winde said he would visit these stations and another six identified hot spots.

Winde replaced new Cape Town mayor Dan Plato as provincial MEC for Community Safety at the beginning of November. He was previously the MEC for Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture and has been announced as the DA’s Western Cape premier candidate for the 2019 elections. DM