The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, calls on the SAPS in the Western Cape to increase their allocation of Public Order Police (POP) officers and establish an additional POP unit in the Western Cape.
On 13 August, Minister Fritz had a fruitful engagement with the National Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, and the Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata, on the spate of land invasions in the province and requested that additional resources be allocated to the province to improve its response. Minister Fritz has since written to the National Commissioner requesting an update on the increased allocation.
Minister Fritz said, "Overall, the Western Cape has 9.8% fewer resources compared to four other provinces including KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo and Eastern Cape. The Western Cape only has three POPs units which serve Cape Town, Paarl and George. This is concerning as it constrains our officers' ability to respond timeously were the threat is not located nearby to these units."
Minister Fritz added, "It is further concerning that the total number of POP officers in the province has declined from 541 in 2018 to 406 in 2020. We have seen an alarming number of reports of protest action in recent months and our ability to respond is limited by our number of POP units and officers."
Between 1 August 2020 and 29 August 2020 alone, the City Cape Town reported 55 incidents of protest action, predominantly in Kraaifontein, Khayelitsha, Hout Bay and Bellville South.
Minister Fritz said, "POP is an essential policing service as they are a specialised unit within SAPS, which provide effective crowd management capabilities. They are trained on the utilisation of rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to manage crowds. The unit polices sports events, concerts, festivals, VIP visits, marches, public unrest, gatherings, pickets, service delivery protests and strikes and are therefore essential in ensuring stability and calm within our province."
During 2018/19, 2715 incidents of protest action were policed, of which:
1659 suspects were arrested;
44 firearms were confiscated;
774 of these were violent protests; and
1941 were peaceful protests.
Minister Fritz said, "In 2014, SAPS proposed to expand the number of officers from 4 563 to 9 522 and the number of units from 28 to 54 across South Africa. The ideal number of officers nationally is 11 000 which indicated a shortfall of 50.1% in 2018. We must ensure that SAPS in the Western Cape are fully capacitated and able to respond where they are needed."