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Lack of detectives cripple crime combat

The shortage of police detectives in Cape Town is reaching crisis levels, according to mayor Dan Plato.

A report released by the Western Cape Department of Community Safety last week, confirmed that police detectives at local police stations are overburdened with caseloads of more than 200 cases per detective, which is 333% above the 50 to 60 case norm.

Brackenfell Police Station is no exception, with only two thirds of the allocated positions filled, according to Brackenfell community policing forum (CPF) chairman Werner Victor.

“Although service has improved under new management at the station, it is clear that there is a shortage of police manpower in Brackenfell and what makes it worst is the fact that there is not much hope for this station to obtain more manpower in the immediate future, as it is not on the priority list. There is no light at the end of the tunnel,” he says.

Leon Brynard manager of the Vredekloof City Improvement District (CID) says local police detectives does not use the resources available to them, such as the CID CCTV cameras in Brackenfell.

“We have on many occasions invited detectives to come and view our video footage, something they simply don’t do. Even when we provide them with solid evidence taken from video footage, it would then take up to two or three months for the detective to make an arrest. Many cases are also withdrawn by the courts, for reasons unknown to the complainants, and detectives would simply not follow up on these cases or even advise the complainants that the cases were withdrawn,” he says.

Brackenfell police could not comment on the issue but referred TygerBurger to the provincial media office who also did not respond.

According to Plato the shortage of detectives in the city, is setting them up for failure. “It is no wonder there is only a 3% conviction rate for gang-related crime in this province,” Plato said at a council meeting last week.

According to minister for Community Safety, Albert Fritz there is currently a shortage of 548 detectives in the Western Cape and that 142 existing posts are unfilled.

Information contained in the above-said report includes the following data:

  • 57% of detective commanders have not completed the requisite training;
  • 2% of detectives at the top gang and murder stations (such as Kraaifontein) has specialised training;
  • 48% of detectives have not completed requisite training;
  • 71% of detectives have no informants.

“But while the national government is ignoring the policing crisis in this province, many dedicated police officers continue to work day and night to protect our communities, and they are putting their lives on the line,” said Plato.

He expressed his wish that the recent deployment of the army in gang-related areas, which now also include Bloekombos and Scottsdene, on Brackenfell’s doorstep, will allow the police to do their work, to investigate, make arrests, confiscate drugs and weapons.

“Former premier Helen Zille and I have been calling for this deployment since as far as back as 2014. I hope that the police are taking full advantage of the army’s deployment.”

“When it comes to the safety of our communities, we as a collective must take hands, and not play politics, not make silly comments and play a blame game. It is all our responsibility to make our communities safer.

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