The Department of Safety and Liaison’s budget (R47,878 million) is set to increase by less than 1 % over the previous year which will limit the department’s ability to oversight the SAPS to the degree that it should. Effective monitoring of the SAPS is critical to improving safety in this province.

We are glad that the department has agreed to resource community policing forums by allocating R20 000 to each of the 27 Cluster Community Police Boards and R30 000 to the Provincial Community Police Board. These funds need to be closely monitored by the department to ensure that they are utilised for running costs and not spent on frivolous and needless expenditure.

The new recruits for the SAPS of 600 is an improvement over the 495 from the previous year although the number of new vehicles to be purchased declines from 780 to 700.

The roll-out of the Tactical Response Team (TRT) to East London and Mthatha will assist in apprehending robberies in progress and dealing with violent crime. However, nothing is said about the re-instatement of specialised units such as the Child Protection-, Family Violence- and Sexual Offences Unit.

The roll-out of the new communications system, TETRA, is welcomed, particularly the capacity to track the location of vehicles. This will assist in preventing police abuse of vehicles. Nothing was said about the introduction of the Metro Police Service in the Nelson Mandela Metropole, which is disappointing. However, the putting into place of CCTV cameras in the Nelson Mandela Metropole hotspots is welcomed.

Safety and security in this province depends on a well-led and well-resourced police service. Leadership at all levels is critical to bring the crime rate down in this province. The real test of this is the reduction in crime statistics which the government continues to keep a secret.

For further information, please contact Bobby Stevenson, MPL on 082 775 3444.

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