Action Society believes that Police Minister Bheki Cele is sending good police officers to their deaths in the Western Cape as many areas are consumed by gangsterism. Outnumbered, understaffed, and under-resourced, these brave officers don’t stand a chance in the worst affected areas such as Delft, Gugulethu, and Khayelitsha. Even if all the police officers in these areas were good cops, they would still be outnumbered by more than 700 to one, according to police statistics.
According to Ian Cameron, Director of Community Safety at Action Society, Cele has not only failed to protect the public but also the many good cops that have died under his watch as the country sees a spike in police killings. According to the latest crime statistics, over 30 police officers were murdered in the past three months alone. Most of these cops are being killed in areas where they are most needed, leaving those communities even more vulnerable.
“In Harare, there is only one police officer for every 879 people. According to the 2021/2022 figures (provided by the Western Cape Police), the ratios in Khayelitsha, Samora Machel, Gugulethu, Kraaifontein and Delft are all almost double the national average of one police officer for every 413 people. In Khayelitsha the ratios are 1:628, in Samora Machel 1:778, Gugulethu 1:773, Kraaifontein 1:721 and in Delft 1:711.
“It should be common sense that the police-to-population ratio in gang-ridden areas should be double than the national average. It should also be common sense that the police officers deployed in these areas must be experienced, should receive special training and should be equipped with the necessary resources to take these areas back from the criminals that are running the show at the moment. Instead Cele is planning to deploy more than 2 000 new recruits, fresh out of the academy into a warzone. Cele is sending these young cops to their deaths and he knows it.”
Besides being outnumbered, police officers in these areas are severely under-resourced. Most of this can be blamed on corruption within the police, political interference and incompetent appointments as a report from the The South African Crime Intelligence Unit showed that multiple vehicles (worth a total of R100 million) were left unused at multiple police stations. If these vehicles were properly allocated to areas that needed them, the police would be much more efficient.
“Nothing will change as long as Cele is at the helm of the police. The SAPS needs to be restructured and rebuilt and Cele needs to be the first to go,” concluded Cameron.