Executive Committee member of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance writes;
Alderman JP Smith points to a 31 percent reduction in murders and 16 percent reduction in gang violence, and this could be due to many reasons, but is also cold comfort to a community where an interview with Alderman Smith on Shotspotter technology revealed 2 800 shots fired in Hanover Park between August 2014 and April 2015.
With bullets whizzing over their heads, through their windows and into the walls of their homes, it is no wonder there is little faith in Ceasefire – with Hanover Park Community Police Forum’s secretary, Mr Weldon Cameron, saying at a meeting on “Gangsterism, Trauma and Substance Abuse” that Ceasefire does not work on the Cape Flats.
In the US, PBS news reported that the City of Chicago had reverted to community policing and visible policing, pointing to a lack of co-operation from Ceasefire Chicago with the Chicago police department, while a large number of Ceasefire outreach workers had fallen back into gangsterism and crime. Mr Cameron reported that the same trends were being seen in Hanover Park.
We thus urge co-operative links between Ceasefire and Hanover Park CPF.
December 2002 saw media reports that about 90 City police had been deployed to Philippi Police Station to quell the gang violence in Hanover Park, and that from 2003, about 40 City police (later called metro police) officers were permanently working out of Philippi Police Station.
Reports of gang violence plummeted as interventions by metro police in support of the SAPS, together with peace efforts from the CPF, managed to quell the violence. NGOs also played a leading role in implementing social development interventions that limited gang recruitment.
In 2007, the City’s civilian oversight Committee for Municipal Policing heard from the then chief of metro police that to maintain the level of policing, the City would require 4 000 metro police officers. At this point municipal policing had about 2 000 officers.
Instead of increasing municipal police, we saw a drop, way below the recommended numbers. Officers are reported to have left because they were being paid less than traffic officers, yet had three core mandates. Many complained that they had to purchase their own protective gear as the City did not provide sufficient boots and bulletproof vests at the time.
Current numbers for the City’s law enforcement agencies vary, with some saying that metro police have about 300 officers, and law enforcement about 1 000 officers.
The deficit in policing is of great concern, more so considering that the SA Police Service Amendment Act of 1998 provides for three core mandates – crime prevention, law enforcement and traffic services – to municipal police, making them the main support function to the SAPS. If the City employed the recommended number of officers, the deficit of 2 000 policing officers for Cape Town would be covered. Mr Cameron states that because of the metro police’s training, they are the most suitable to support the SAPS, and during the period 2002 to 2007 this partnership had proved to be the most effective.
The situation had become so dire that after a Hanover Park Civic Association (HPCA) meeting in February 2015, addressed by Alderman Smith, it was found that only two metro police officers were covering an area that stretched from Mitchells Plain to Klipfontein Road. Sadly, just after this meeting a young man was killed not too far from the public meeting venue.
We are encouraged that Alderman Smith has deployed the City’s metro police and law enforcement’s Stabilisation unit over the festive season. However, for sustainable and lasting results we should learn from what has worked in previous years, where high levels of visible policing between the SAPS and the City were successful, and which gave the community peace of mind.
The Reverend Philip Bam, chairperson of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance, has for some time been calling for the disarming of gangsters on the Cape Flats, and is now supported by former Mitchells Plain cluster chair Hanief Loonat. However, the national parliamentary portfolio committee for the police’s 2015 national firearms summit heard that only disarming gangs would not deal with the real problem, as we are not dealing with the trauma experienced by multiple generations, ranging from colonial and apartheid eras to the present.
It was explained that this inter-generational trauma remains unresolved. It was recommended that trauma needed to be taken much more seriously in efforts to combat violence, and the only way to do that is to make mental health a priority.
In this regard, civil society has had to take on the brunt of the social development work, while having very few resources.
Video analysis of crime trends from the Institute of Security Studies shows police have a small role to play in creating safety, but that provincial and City departments have the biggest role, where provincial and City social workers need to lead, but to be supported by the Western Cape Health and Education departments, and the City’s Safety and Security, Human Settlements and Spatial Development departments. In this way they should all be working together to create a municipal environment that is safe for citizens.
The Integrated Social Crime Prevention Strategy (2011) of the Department of Social Development called for the collaboration of government departments in implementing an effective crime prevention and substance abuse strategy. It identified three elements of the crime triangle: desire, target and opportunity.
Of the three, opportunity can be controlled by paying attention to the entire community and environment.
Alderman JP Smith on shotspotter “….. we saw around 2,800 shootings during the period that the system was recording shots (August 2014 to April 2015),…. in Hanover Park,”>> See link>>http://www.vocfm.co.za/hanover-park-shotspotter-no-longer-in-use/
Chicago Drops CeaseFire from Anti-Violence Strategy>> http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/chicago-drops-ceasefire-from-anti-violence-strategy/
Police can only play a small role in curbing crime, e.g. alternatives is identifying early warning interventions by Dr Chandre Gould>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H09dNCv7Po
Reducing violence is not only the role of the police, far greater role for social workers, teachers and other government departments can play to reduce violent crime by Mr Gareth Newham>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz6JGqOIrIY
Institute of Security Studies crime statistics factsheet 2013/2014>>http://www.issafrica.org/uploads/ISS-crime-statistics-factsheet-2013-2014.pdf
Institute of Security Studies crime statistics factsheet 2012/2013>>http://www.issafrica.org/crimehub/uploads/Explaining-the-official-crime-statistics-for-2012-13-factsheet.pdf