Western Cape Minister for Community Safety, Dan Plato and Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer appear to be at cross purposes over how to combat curb drug and gang-related crime in the province.
This emerged at a SAPS and Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) briefing to the Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport in the provincial legislature on Tuesday.
When asked by chairperson of the committee, Mark Wiley, whether the specialized gang and drug units would be brought back, Lamoer, who briefed the committee on crime in the province, said task teams were being created to deal with these crimes.
“We will not establish units to run forever. We create task teams to deal with the problem for that time,” he said.
But his political boss, Western Cape Minister for Community Safety, Dan Plato, who has made the specialized units a policing priority, said the units have been proven to be an “effective strategy” to reduce drug and gang related crime.
Plato has argued that through the units, teams can work solely on drug and gang related crimes, and that specialist skills and expertise could be put to use to ensure successful convictions.
Last week, the specialized drug and gang units were endorsed by the provincial cabinet. Plato had also requested the assistance of Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, informing him that the specialized units were a “formal policing need and priority”.
Meanwhile it emerged that at least two people die per day either in police custody or as a result of police action, and as many as 16 policemen a day are accused of misconduct according to figures for the 2010/2011 financial year provided to the standing committee by the ICD.
Despite the alarming figures, there has been an eight percent decrease in the overall number of complaints received by the ICD, from 6 377 complaints in the 2009/2010 year to 5 869 in the 2010/2011 year, said ICD national spokesperson Moses Dlamini.
Of the 5 869 complaints received in 2011/10, 797 were deaths, 102 were domestic violence cases, 2477 were misconduct cases and 2493 allegations of criminal offences.
Gauteng and the Western Cape received the largest number of complaints for both 2009/10 and 2010/11.
Western Cape complaints which reduced by seven percent this financial year, included 55 cases of deaths, 28 cases of domestic violence, 438 criminal offences and 485 cases of misconduct. — Fadela Slamdien