NEWS & ANALYSIS

The SJC falls into Cele's trap

Alan Winde says what is really needed is proper policing for all, not what that NGO is proposing

Like moths to a flame, SJC falls into Cele's trap

30 January 2019

I read with interest the SJC’s recent statement celebrating Minister Cele’s decision not to appeal the damning Equality Court judgement against the SAPS. Like moths to a flame, the SJC has fallen right into Cele’s trap.

While Minister Cele went on radio and publicly proclaimed that the police had withdrawn their appeal to the court judgment which found that SAPS discriminated against poor, Black communities in their allocation of police, I have confirmation that nearly a week later, their attorneys have yet to receive this instruction to withdraw the appeal.

This lays bare the real intent of Minister Cele, which is to dampen public reaction to the fact he appealed the judgment in the first place. The Minister is stuck between a rock and a hard place – he wants to appeal, but he knows it’s bad politics.

For one, I’m not buying what Minister Cele is selling. The SJC welcomed the Minister’s “candid admission” that poor, Black police precincts countrywide are not getting the resources they deserve and need. The dictionary definition of ‘candid’ includes the words honest, and sincere. But until the Minister’s words meet his actions, and unfair resource allocations are actually addressed, this is not terminology that can be associated with Minister Bheki Cele.

That is why, in my statement released last week, I urged that we should hold off on celebrating, until we see action – more police in poor, Black communities, such as Nyanga. I am at a loss to understand why the SJC, which claims to be fighting for just that, twisted my words by claiming that I said their court victory should not be celebrated. In this instance, we have supported the action of the SJC and its co-applicants, with my department standing beside them in the court room.

The SJC in their recent statement claim that we do not need more police, but the shifting of police from affluent suburbs to poor, Black communities. I disagree. All our people, Black, Coloured, Indian and White, deserve protection from criminal elements. To insinuate that because Sea Point only had 2 murders in 2017/18, its police should be diverted elsewhere, is an outrage.

I will be calling the SJC to a meeting to discuss this matter.

Every community has the right, under the constitution, to receive a service from the South African police service to protect them and their property, and to have the law upheld and enforced. What we need is a police service that is adequately resourced, across the province, and indeed across South Africa, to avert murders, and all other forms of crime.

The Western Cape should be resourced to a level that all communities can enjoy a basic level of policing, and poorer high crime areas should be allocated additional policing over and above the basics. This is both logical and necessary.

In today’s South Africa, which is regarded as one of the most violent countries in the world, what we need is more, and better police. That said, as an interim solution, our most vulnerable communities must receive the policing they need to arrest an out-of-control situation.

The DA government has previously called for the deployment of the army to assist the SAPS in these areas, to ensure the safety of residents, a matter which has been vociferously opposed by the national government. We have also offered to pay from the provincial budget for the employment of reservists to fight crime in these areas, a call which received no response from the police minister. How can the discounting of these solutions, designed to help our people, not be seen as vindictive?

What we need is a professional, fully staffed police service that is able to deal with the scourge of crime our residents face. Instead of pitting themselves against the provincial government, the SJC would do well to combine forces with those that seek the same ends. This includes a safer home for poor, Black communities, which deserve and need immediate relief, and in fact for all South Africans.

Alan Winde is Western Cape Minister of Community Safety.