Crime: The time for devolution of policing power is now

The horrific crime statistics that the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, released today, does not shock anymore, because it has unfortunately become a predictable norm in South Africa. What is shocking is the fact that the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) top leadership cannot offer any feasible solutions to the 75 murders and 75 attempted murders that currently take place every day in South Africa and, moreover, are still doing everything in their power to control the SAPS on a centralised basis in the national government.

Political interference, corruption, a lack of training and accountability have crippled the SAPS for far too long. It is clear that this situation cannot be rectified at the national level. It is like setting the wolf to keep the sheep.

AfriForum has repeatedly pointed out that there is a significant variation across provinces in the incidence of different types of crime. The variation in terms of, for example, murder figures as well as the type of murders – such as assassinations and taxi-related, farm and illegal mining-related murders – emphasises the uniqueness of these crimes and therefore the urgency of a unique approach to combating, investigating and solving it. South Africa’s only hope of bringing crime under control now rests with the devolution of policing powers to provincial and regional level.

This devolution of power will imply that provinces and regions will have more say in the formulation of their own crime prevention strategies as well as the implementation thereof. Combating farm attacks, for example, requires an entirely different policing approach than cracking down on gang violence on the Cape Flats. Yet solutions to diverse crimes are formulated from the comfort of central headquarters that is not only geographically removed from the problems, but also burdened with bureaucratic leadership, a snail’s pace reaction to challenges and a lack of sufficient ground-level knowledge to effectively combat crime.

“While crime in South Africa paralyses the economy and harasses residents of the country on a daily basis, the SAPS is also left with a shortage of nearly 8 000 detectives and no real plan to deal with the situation. The number of police reservists has also decreased significantly from 52 000 in 2011/2012 and currently stands at just over 3 500. The SAPS is also not making any effort to re-enlist these volunteers,” says Jacques Broodryk, AfriForum’s spokesperson for Community Safety.

“Control over policing does not belong in the hands of the corrupt ANC’s central powers, but rather in the hands of communities. It is now time to devolve the police’s power in order to contain the criminal virus that threatens to engulf South Africa,” concludes Broodryk.

AfriForum also calls on members of the public to join their local civilian safety structures to help ensure the safety of their communities.

AfriForum has 169 neighbourhood watches nationwide. Get involved at www.afriforumbuurtwag.co.za.

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