Govt is ignoring increasing murders in Western Cape – Winde

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on Tuesday accused the national government of ignoring the increasing murder numbers in the province — which recorded 331 murders in May this year, compared to 304 in May last year.

“That is more than 10 murders per day in the province, lives cut short by senseless violence. The statistics are sourced from the forensic services unit in the Western Cape department of health and not from the official crime statistics, as these are only released by [SA Police Service] SAPS once a year,” Winde said.

He said that, of the 331 murders in May, 171 were shot, and 116 killed by stabbing with a sharp object. A total of 271 of the murders were recorded in the metro, with the remaining 60 in the province’s rural areas.

By comparison, in 2018, 107 people died by being stabbed with a sharp object and 150 were shot. A total of 246 of the murders were recorded in the metro, with 58 rural murders, Winde said.

“The fact that murder numbers have increased year-on-year is deeply concerning and points to systemic failures by the police to curb crime and violence. The anti-gang unit, introduced with much fanfare in November last year, has resulted in some arrests, but it is clearly having little impact on the murder rate,” he said.

“The police are woefully under-resourced in this province. In the Western Cape, the police to population ratio is one police officer for every 509 people. In the Cape Town metro, this is even higher at 1:560 against a national average of 1:375.”

He added that Western Cape police were having to investigate 10 new murders per day, and said that the province was working on equipping neighbourhood watches and instituting Watching Briefs to monitor the court process after an arrest has been made.

He said that without an effective police service, the province could not make progress toward reducing the murder rate.

“That is why I am pursuing the intergovernmental dispute with national Minister Bheki Cele, who controls the South African Police Service. If he won’t take action himself, he, as head of SAPS, must be compelled to allocate the resources this province needs.”

Cele’s spokesperson, Reneilwe Serero, said the shortage of police officers was not limited to the Western Cape, but a national problem which would not be resolved overnight and the government was working hard dealing with the crisis of police shortages nationally.

She said that those efforts included the increased number of student intake in police colleges.

“This year alone, we took in 5,000 because we’re trying to increase the numbers. Out of that number, 1,000 will be provident to the Western Cape and the other eight provinces will have to share the 4,000. So I don’t know why they are saying we are not doing enough,” she said.

“It’s always the same thing from the Western Cape government over and over again. They always complain about the province being under-resourced and we always tell them that’s not true. That province is the most resourced province in terms of the manpower that we have put there,” said Serero, adding that the minister had been putting his focus in the Western Cape province and had always been attending to policing issues in the province.

“The minister recently launched operation Thunder in the province and further launched the Anti-Gang Unit to fight the gangsterism that’s happening in the province. So the police officers that are there, are there with resources,” she added.

African News Agency (ANA)

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