Number of law enforcement officers drop

The 500 officers who are part of the City of Cape Towns Law Enforcement Advancement Program (LEAP) during a parade. Picture: Supplied

A City programme to deploy hundredsmorelaw enforcement officers has had the opposite effect in the far south, where their numbers have dwindled.

Last month, 500 new law enforcement recruits were deployed in various crime hot spots as part of the City’s Law Enforcement Advancement Programme (LEAP), which is jointly funded by Province in line with the Western Cape Safety Plan.

But officers were drawn from the far south for that deployment, slashing the size of its law enforcement contingent.

According to Simon’s Town Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, Eileen Heywood, Fish Hoek now has only two law enforcement officers instead of six and Muizenberg has 20 instead of 43.

She said the CPF had at first been happy to hear about Leap because they considered the area understaffed, but it had soon become clear that no help was on the way.

Meanwhile, she said, the Simon’s Town Rent-a-Cop, budgeted for from the ward allocation, was also nowhere to be seen despite getting council approval in June last year.

Rent-a-Cop is part of the City’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) where civilians, NGOs, companies and other institutions can sponsor law enforcement, metro police and traffic officials.

“I have written to JP Smith (mayoral committee member for safety and security) and Richard Bosman (executive director for safety and security) twice since our last CPF meeting and they have not responded.”

When mayor Dan Plato visited the far south earlier this month, Seaforth and Boulders Neighbourhood Watch coordinator, Gary Carlton, handed him a petition complaining about problems caused by a lack of law enforcement in the Seaforth and Boulders tourist spot.

Traders, buskers, beggars, and petty thieves harassed the tourists and the residents on Seaforth beach, Mr Carlton said.

Some of the traders were unlicensed and they and the buskers were guilty of by-law transgressions.

Residents and volunteer guards who had confronted the traders and beggars had been threatened.

Futhermore, tourist buses were parking on Queens Road, Seaforth despite the red lines and the no-tourist-bus signs.

Other buses, he said, parked in Harrington Street and the tourists had to cross a busy Queens Road twice creating a real danger to the tourists and other road users.

Mr Plato’s office confirmed receipt of the petition and said he would report back to the community in the coming weeks.

Ocean View CPF chairperson, Kathy Cronje, said there were no law enforcement officers in Ocean View until the the protest on Sunday March 1 following the murder of Emaan Solomons who was shot and killed in crossfire on Tuesday February 25 (“Too many innocent lives lost,” Echo March 5).

“One law enforcement officer is simply not enough,” she said.

Fish Hoek CPF chairman, Andre Blom, agreed that law enforcement was not up to scratch in Fish Hoek.

It was impossible for two officers working from 9.30am to 3.30pm to enforce the law,although they try their best,” he said.

Reducing an effective force in one area to fight crime in another area would allow criminal elements to invade the “safer areas and before long the safe areas will become high crime areas,” he said.

Law enforcement should be enforcing by-laws not trying to replace SAPS, he said.

“The City is misusing its law enforcement force which is detrimental to areas such as Fish Hoek main road where the City recovers a lot of its revenue through rates and taxes.”

According to executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, a large number of far south law enforcement officers, successfully applied for LEAP positions, attracted by employment contracts more favourable than those they had under the EPWP.

“Because of the mass recruitment requirement placed on the law enforcement department and the safety and security training college, the department was not in a position to have staff on standby to replace the gaps. The filling of the posts is under way as training started in February,” he said.

The LEAP officers, he said, had already played a huge role when violence broke out in Ocean View recently.

WhileLEAPofficerswere deployed to the five highest murder and gang-violence hot spots, they could be redeployed to other areas to counter violence flare-ups.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said: “To date, 500 law enforcement officers have been deployed to communities including Delft, Site C Khayelitsha and Philippi, which includes Hanover Park. These deployments are data-led and communities have been prioritised which are most affected by crime.”