South Africa’s Western Cape provincial government on Sunday accused National Police Minister, Bheki Cele, of violating the Constitution by ignoring the security concerns in the province.
It is now six months since the Western Cape government, run by the opposition Democratic Alliance, first wrote to Cele with a list of urgent policing needs and priorities for the province, official said.
Alan Winde, the Provincial Minister for Community Safety added that Cele had ignored the list.
Winde said that he, as authorised by the Western Cape cabinet, has written to Cele to notify him that the Western Cape government was declaring a formal inter-governmental dispute with the police minister.
“The minister of police is obliged by the constitution to consult and take account of the specific needs of our province when determining policy.
“By ignoring these needs and priorities, minister Cele is violating the constitution,” Winde said.
Confronted by rising crimes, the Western Cape province’s police force is dramatically under-resourced compared to other provinces run by the ruling African National Congress, according to Winde.
The Western Cape, the only province run by an opposition party, has requested more police officers but to no avail, said Winde.
While one officer must protect 375 people on average nationally, in the Western Cape, the ratio is 1:509, he said.
“It makes me angry that the national ANC government gives our province fewer resources to fight crime than other provinces,” Winde said.
The Western Cape needs urgent additional personnel to enable police to take steps to address gang violence and the appalling murder rate, as well as to protect learners and schools, public transport and state infrastructure such as ambulances, said Winde.
The City of Cape Town, capital of the Western Cape, has the highest murder rate in South Africa, according to the 2018/19 State of Urban Safety in SA Report.
In the city, almost 2,500 people were murdered in the 2017/18 reporting period, which is 69 murders per 100,000 people.
Meanwhile, robberies and attacks on commuter trains and ambulances have been on the rise over the past few years.
The decrease in the total number of police reservists available over weekends is directly impacting on the efficiency of the SAPS in the Western Cape to reduce the levels of reporting crime.
As a result of this, and to assist the SAPS, the Western Cape offered to give SAPS five million rand (about 350,000 dollars) to pay for police reservists to be deployed in the province, to act as a force multiplier and reduce crime, according to Winde.
The Western Cape further offered provincial government volunteers to take on administrative duties at SAPS stations, such as Commissioners of Oaths, so that more police officers are freed up to fight crime on patrol, he said.
“But the minister has ignored us, and has not responded to our province’s urgent policing needs and priorities and did not respond to these offers,” Winde said.
Cele is obliged by the Inter-governmental Relations Framework Act to meet urgently with the Western Cape government to respond to and address these security concerns, Winde said.