Where are the resources to keep Cape Flats communities safe?

Picture: Leon Knipe

Prospects for a sad and violent Christmas for Cape Flats families and those of the rest of the Western Cape are as real as ever. While the DA provincial administration continues to play political football with the safety and lives of people, the DA shamelessly and hypocritically continues to blame national government for a lack of resources in fighting crime, violence, gangsterism and substance abuse in the province.

Their accusations ring hollow and their hypocrisy is exposed as they present the provincial administration’s budgetary adjusted estimates, especially for Community Safety. The citizens of the Western Cape thought that they would have enjoyed a bit of respite from their provincial government who cares little for their lives, knowing that the current MEC for Community Safety Alan Winde is also the DA’s premier candidate for the province in next year’s elections.

On Thursday 22 November 2018, in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature the DA administration and Alan Winde in particular presented the adjustments for Vote 4 – Community Safety – to the House for consideration. Nearly R3 million will be moved from this Department’s budget to other departments for other expenses. In the face of the war in communities currently enraging, this move of R3 million is significant.

The adjusted vote proposes that nearly R2,5 million be shifted to the Department of the Premier in order to recruit analyst developers. While the DA provincial government accuses the national government of taking community safety resources away from the Western Cape, it shifts money away from Community Safety and that to employ analyst developers in the Department of the Premier.

With bullets flying and children often being the victims of crime, the DA, through the adjusted budget on Community Safety prioritises highway patrol, with it taking fifteen of the R26 millio in adjustments. Put in context, as the crisis with gangsterism, drugs and crime in the province enrages, when the DA has the chance to shift funding instead of putting more money into the safety of our communities, as Winde’s portfolio suggests, he rather chooses to put funding into highway patrol.

As our communities rise up to say “enough is enough” with living in fear, Winde shifts another R5 million into addressing “community and social unrest”. Again, put differently, instead of investing the money into fighting gangsterism and drugs through Community Safety projects such as Bambanani Volunteers and giving more resources to community policing fora, Winde rather pumps the money into fighting community activists.

R2 million is to be spent on installing Wifi, R1,2 million on a Operationalisation of a Safety Plan in Saldanha Bay and R1,15 million spent on communications and provincial government staff. In other words, another R5 million just on propping up the Department rather than spending it on directly fighting crime.

The priority of the DA administration’s Department of Community Safety is to protect the wealthy who use the highways and to ensure that the rich are not inconvenienced through protest action. The safety of the poor and working class of Bonteheuwel, Nyanga, Heideveld, Khayelitsha, Kensington and Mitchell’s Plain is not a priority for the DA or their premier candidate Alan Winde.

The DA will say that they have reallocated another R26 million to Community Safety but this is where the money has gone: highway patrol, Wifi, branding, tech toys, fighting community activists and a supposed safety plan.

In contrast when you look at the detail in the budgetary process during the period that the ANC governed the Western Cape (1999-2009) you would see that it stretched funding into fighting crime as much as it stretched Section 206 of the Constitution of the Republic to its limits. This section speaks about the political responsibility of the police in South Africa and while the DA shies away from fighting crime, the ANC, when it was in power in the Western Cape,l used this very section to mobilise and fund communities in supporting the SAPS, working with the police and implementing initiatives that would augment the work of the police.

One example of this matching funding with taking crime in the province seriously was that by 2005, the Bambanani crime project peaked when it employed over eight thousand community volunteers in the most poorest areas of our province because these were also the most affected by crime and violence. The volunteers complimented the work of the police and as a result thousands of young people were patrolling schools making them safer, thousands of young people were patrolling Metrorail trains, again making them safer for workers and passengers to use, and thousands of young people were beefing up rural safety plans to curb crimes on farm workers and farm owners alike.

Yet most importantly, in consultation with the national Minister of Police, the ANC-led administration in the Western Cape decided to shift policing resources to where they were needed the most; not to patrolling highways, fighting community activists and sending the money to other departments for more salaries or communications.

All within the ambit of Section 206 and with enough resources matching these projects, the ANC introduced the High-Flyers project targeting the Western Cape’s top 200 criminal bosses – a project that again involved national entities such as the SAPS, SARS and the NPA. We did not fight with these entities, as the adversarial DA always does, we worked with them.

In the 2003/4 financial year, contact crime was reduced by eighteen percent. In 2004/5, it was reduced by two percent and in 2005/6 by twenty-seven percent. But we could only have achieved these kinds of results and fight crime if we worked with communities rather than fighting them, worked with national government and the SAPS rather than fighting them and matched our fight with the necessary resources.

Sadly we have seen the DA fighting national government and our communities, even now dedicating millions to fighting community organisations protesting crime. To add to this, they have taken away resources from Community Safety and prioritised the Department of the Premier. The DA does not take crime seriously. Sadly it doesn’t take communities seriously either.

Cameron Dugmore is an ANC MPL in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature and Khalid Sayed is the Provincial Chairperson of the ANCYL in the Western Cape.