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Ombudsman recommendations for fighting Overstrand crime

The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, received a report-back from JJ Brand, Western Cape Police Ombudsman, about the poor response to complaints at the Gansbaai, Kleinmond, Hermanus and Stanford police stations.

Main criminal activity

One of the main criminal activities that plagues the Overstrand is abalone poaching.

“The complaint about police inefficiencies in the areas was found by the police ombudsman to be substantiated,” said Fritz. “The Western Cape Police Ombudsman has now submitted his report to me in my capacity as Minister of Community Safety, as per the requirements set out in Section 17(8) of the Western Cape Community Safety Act, 2013.”

Recommendations made in report

Escalate the findings to Bheki Cele, the National Minister of Police to address the poor police-to-population ratio and vehicle allocations for detectives in the Overberg cluster. Recommendations for abalone poaching

. Ensure organised projects regarding poaching are initiated and investigated by the Organised Crime Unit of Saps. Abalone poaching should be classified as organised crime in terms of Section 16 of the South African Police Service Act, Act 68 of 1995;

. Establish an Environmental Court in consultation with the national Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development;

. Ensure the National Integrated Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking (NISCWT) be submitted urgently to national Cabinet for approval; and

. Categorise abalone poaching as a serious crime, in line with rhino poaching.

“This report will be presented to the Provincial Standing Committee on Community Safety, which will further review the report as per the constitutional powers of such a multi-party committee,” Fritz said. “The standing committee may also call on any Saps members to appear before it, to further explain and account for the findings made by the Police Ombudsman.”

Recommendations directed to the Western Cape Government Departments

The recommendation requests that the Provincial Minister of Environmental Affairs address the backlog concerning the disposal of abalone at the storage facilities.

The Department of Community Safety ensures an urgent improvement in the recruitment of accredited Neighbourhood Watch structures in the Overstrand area.

“I would like to thank the ombudsman for sharing these insightful recommendations which are rooted in empirical evidence,” said Fritz.

“I will work closely with the necessary stakeholders to ensure that these recommendations are reviewed and implemented.”

He promised that under his leadership the Department of Community Safety will continue to use every tool at its disposal to safeguard rural and urban communities against poaching of any kind.

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