Despite recent assurances by KZN Community Safety MEC, Bheki Ntuli- that his Department is committed to prioritizing SAPS resources within the province’s worst-affected crime areas – numerous communities are being let down precisely as a result of this.
According to recent reports, communities within the Greytown, Inanda and Umbilo are crying out for help as serious crime escalates within their areas. This while SAPS is citing a lack of resources including vehicles and workforce when dealing with complaints.
The information does not come as a surprise to the DA. Certainly, these SAPS stations are not isolated in terms of a lack of intervention by the province’s Department of Community Safety. What matters now is that the MEC explains how he and his Department are going to address the issue after years of doing nothing.
A prime example of this is the complete lack of intervention at KZN’s Inanda SAPS despite the staggeringly high level of priority crimes during the last decade. This in spite of an assurance by the National Police Minister, in response to a national DA written parliamentary question in 2019, that emphasis would be placed on stations with the highest volumes of crimes. The same response also highlighted the severe shortage of workforce at Inanda SAPS. While the global average is at 340 officers to 100 000 people, Inanda is operating with a ratio of 332 officers to 363 253 people.
A year later in July 2020, KZN’s Community Safety Portfolio Committee received a report from SAPS providing the assurance that it was working within the framework of the national monitoring tool to avoid any lack of resources at KZN’s 184 SAPS stations. In the same report it was confirmed that KZN has a total of 5 882 police vehicles which are split amongst the 184 stations.
If this was the case, then how is it possible that four detectives at Inanda SAPS are sharing a single vehicle thereby hampering the solving of priority cases? And why then are community members in Greytown and Umbilo complaining that these SAPS stations have only one vehicle, making it difficult for police officers to attend to their complaints? During the same meeting, it was established that 27% of all vehicles were currently under repair and unavailable for visible policing. This is already entirely insufficient and shows that the two critical monitoring tools of workforce and vehicle capacity are not being adhered to.
If MEC Ntuli and his Department are serious about reducing priority crimes in our province, then they must make the following simple yet effective interventions with immediate effect;
• Increase the SAPS KZN workforce
• Prioritize the training of officers and detectives
• Redirect resources and tools of trade
• Link up and work with effective security companies in various areas and
• Strengthen relationships with Community Policing Forums.
The people of our province are tired of broken promises when it comes to their safety and that of their families. They do not want to hear anymore empty words or talk shops. The time for action is now.