South Africa: Police Top Brass Deny That Western Cape Commissioner Told to Pack Up and Go

About 100 residents of Hanover Park blocked streets protesting against gang violence in their community on July 3, 2019.

Western Cape police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula will not be packing up and leaving in mid-July, as reported earlier, the national SAPS spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"It's not true," said Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, following a report on IOL that Jula had to pack up and be out by July 15.

"The provincial commissioner has not been asked to leave. He is not being removed. He is just currently on vacation leave.

"People are just being malicious," said Naidoo.

According to the IOL report, and a report in Sunday Times, the complaints regarding Jula revolve around whether gang crime has decreased; questions over the shooting of six Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) members in Samora Machel informal settlement last month; and whether Jula's job should rather have gone to a local police officer, such as Major General Jeremy Vearey, the province's deputy commissioner of crime detection.

Last week, community activist Colin Arendse claimed that the AGU, currently headed by General André Lincoln, had not been allocated its own budget.

Arendse also complained that the Major Offences Reaction Team (MORT) had denuded police stations and specialised policing units when officers were redeployed for it.

Running parallel to this is the Western Cape government's lobbying for more police officers, amid complaints that the province is allocated less officers per population ratio than other provinces, and an announcement that the AGU will be elevated to national level.

The Western Cape currently also uses a network of volunteer Neighbourhood Watch and Community Policing Forum members to supplement its patrolling ability.

1 600 murdered this year so far

Safety and Security MEC Albert Fritz said last week that 1 600 bodies of murder victims had been counted at mortuaries between January and June, with many of them being victims of gang violence. He also expressed concern that a gun used in a murder, which had last been seen when checked into a police evidence locker, was now somehow back on the streets.

City of Cape Town Safety, Security and Social Services MMC JP Smith said that, if gang violence and murder could be eradicated, Cape Town would no longer be labelled as the "murder capital" of the country.

In April, Fritz's predecessor Alan Winde declared a formal dispute with Police Minister Bheki Cele over policing in the province by sending a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Winde is now premier.

He said one officer had to protect 375 people on average nationally, while in the Western Cape, the ratio was 1:509.

Naidoo said it was not uncommon for officers to be moved from one province to another, and that Jula, originally from KwaZulu-Natal, had the discretion to set up units that he thought were necessary.

However, he conceded that the AGU did not have its own budget yet.

"No they don't. They operate under the provincial commissioner currently."

AGU v MORT

He explained that the AGU's purpose was to crack down on gang-related crimes, such as murder, trafficking and drug use.

MORT deals with hijackings, cash-in-transit heists and other aggravated robberies, as well as serious crimes in areas not infested by gangs.

The shooting of the six police officers on June 12 is still being investigated.

The latest claims are part of ongoing issues related to policing in the Western Cape.

Naidoo said the AGU had been launched by the president on November 1 last year, because there was a historic need for a unit like that and the unit's success or otherwise would only be evident after analysis of the release of the national crime statistics in September.

"While the gang unit is there, the level of work ethic has been extremely high. Members are positive; they've been working really hard, and have been well received by the community. As far as that is concerned, we are seeing a lot of positiveness.

"Gangsterism didn't start on the 1st of November last year. It was here in the Western Cape for a very long time."

Source: News24

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