DA eThekwini Mayoral Candidate
24 April 2011
Note to editors: This is a plan to resurrect the eThekwini Metro Police jointly presented by DA Mayoral Candidates for eThekwini and Cape Town, Ronnie Veeran and Patricia de Lille, drawing on the successes of the DA government in Cape Town.
The Durban Metro Police are tasked with enforcing our municipal bylaws supporting the SAPS with crime prevention. A good Metro Police force will supplement the work of the SAPS.
Durban Metro Police have currently 1056 vacant posts out of about 2200. Cape Town had a 25% vacancy rate when the DA took over, which they regarded as a crisis, yet with a 48% vacancy rate the Dubran Metro Police spokesperson says there are “more than enough” staff (Independent on Saturday, 23 April).
As a result of the shortage of staff in the Metro Police, communities are being affected:
· When the Umlazi Metro Police branch was recently established, the core members of the Chatsworth Anti-Drug Team were moved to Umlazi as a result of a shortage of officers, effectively disbanding the team.
· The community of K-section KwaMashu had to stage protests before council would take measures on the notorious Nkonjane Rd which has claimed the lives of schoolchildren as a result of speeding. Speeding must be controlled through effective enforcement by speed timing.
· On an evening in April only 1 Metro Police officer instead of 14 were on duty for the entire Pinetown and Queensburgh areas.
As a result of a properly implemented urban management strategy and a revitalised Cape Town Metro Police, crime in the Cape Town CBD was reduced by 90% within 2 years of the DA taking government. The same strategy is being rolled out across the Cape Town Metro with a view to reducing crime in the rest of the Metro.
When the DA took the City of Cape Town over from the ANC in 2006, the Metro Police was dysfunctional and had been crippled by cadre deployment. The number of officers had been reduced by 800 members. One out of every four posts in the metro police service in Cape Town was vacant and there were severe shortages of equipment and specialised skills. The Metro Police had a reputation for corruption, inefficiency and ill-discipline.
A DA government in eThekwini will immediately invest funds to attracting experienced officers to the Metro Police. We will ensure they are properly equipped and trained. We will establishe specialised units to combat crime, copper theft, drinking and driving and speeding.
In the DA’s first 100 days in office, emergency funds were utilised to fill critical posts in the metro police. Extra money was allocated for police equipment. In the DA’s first financial year, the Metro Police received a bigger capital budget than it had had for the entire five years before that.
Cape Town now has a Metro Police engaged in more real police work than any other Metro Police in the country. They don’t just enforce by-laws. They go after the criminals who terrorise our communities. And they catch them.
Breaking the Chain: The DA’s Plan to Fight Drugs in eThekwini
Drugs and drug addiction are having a devastating effect on the eThekwini community. Residents of Chatsworth, Phoenix and other suburbs such as Claremont, Umlazi and KwaMashu have been caught in the stranglehold of notorious drugs such as sugars and whoonga.
Widespread addiction to these drugs has contributed to the tearing of our social fabric, broken families and a high incidence of crime and criminality. The local community bears the burden as dealers battle for turf and addicts look for every opportunity to fund their habits. In some suburbs of the city addicts have even resorted to preying on HIV patients to steal their ARV’s for the production of whoonga.
In Chatsworth the Metro Police were making exceptional breakthroughs in the fight against drugs and drug dealers and yet the unit’s special drug team was effectively disbanded when its 5 members were moved to the new Umlazi station, leaving the drug lords to operate with impunity. This is yet another indictment of how the effectiveness of our Metro Police is compromised by the poor management which has left the force with a 48% vacancy rate and thus only half the personnel it needs.
The DA-led city of Cape Town has demonstrated that the Metro Police, which are funded by the ratepayers of the metro, can be an enormously effective force in combating the sale and distribution of drugs. Since taking power in the city the DA created a specialized Metro Police unit to tackle the drugs scourge.
As a result, arrests for drug-related crimes soared from 180 in the 2005/6 financial year to a massive 955 in 2009/10 financial year. This has also contributed to the reduction of the overall crime statistics as drug-related offences are often linked to more serious offences such as murder, assault, theft and armed robbery.
A DA government in eThekwini would immediately set about creating a specialized Metro Police unit to tackle this problem head-on. This unit will consist of highly trained and equipped officers and an efficient intelligence gathering arm.
This unit would partner with the SAPS, private security companies and community policing fora to identify where drugs are being sold, how they are entering the city and the drug lords responsible for selling them. Partnerships will also be sought with the prosecuting authority to ensure that arrests, evidence gathering and subsequent prosecutions result in watertight convictions.
Keeping the lights on: the DA’s plan to stem cable theft
The theft of electricity cables within the eThekwini municipal area has reached dramatic proportions, severely hampering the operation of electricity infrastructure in the city. Officials in the eThekwini Electricity Department have revealed to the DA that there are an average of 15 incidents of cable theft per day, resulting in 300 – 400 light poles being blacked out and plunging key areas into darkness.
The theft of copper cables in Cape Town was a major problem. The Democratic Alliance city administration took decisive action and established the “Copperheads” unit within the Metro Police. This specialised unit was tasked with combating cable theft as well as seeking out scrap dealers and individuals who were buying stolen cables. The unit has been extremely successful in prosecuting those who commit crimes of sabotage against the City of Cape Town. Such is the success of the unit, that the cost to the city to replace copper cabling has dropped from R20-million pa to just R500 000 pa.
We would take the following action steps within three months of taking office:
· establish a “Copperheads” unit within the Metro Police. This unit will be staffed and equipped to fight those criminals who target municipal infrastructure and bring them to justice.
· motivate for the re-classification of the theft of electricity cables as sabotage to municipal infrastructure. This classification of sabotage carries a far heavier sentence in the courts.
· table a bylaw amendment to regulate and scrutinise scrap dealers who are buying stolen municipal infrastructure. Should scrap dealers be found to be in possession of stolen municipal infrastructure their business licence will be revoked.
Clamping Down: road safety begins and ends with enforcement
One of the Metro Police’s core responsibilities is to enforce the laws on our roads and keep a lid on drinking and driving. Speeding and drunk driving account for the majority of road fatalities in South Africa. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation 45% of weekend fatalities are directly a result of drunk driving.
The key to changing driver behaviour is ensuring regular and strict enforcement of the law. Drivers must always be wary that they could get caught if they speed, drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs or break traffic laws.
We will ensure that:
· the culture of minor traffic offences and reckless driving is eradicated through strict enforcement of traffic laws and by-laws;
· an annual community survey is conducted to find the roads must in need of speed enforcement and the necessary applications are made to the Director of Public Prosecutions to enforce the speed limit on these roads;
· an annual community survey is conducted to establish major sources of drunk driving such as taverns, night clubs, sporting events and beach front venues and regular road blocks are set up as a deterrent.
Community Participation: collaborating with SAPS and the community
The primary role of crime prevention and investigating crimes falls with the SAPS who are a Provincial and National run competency. Our Metro Police service do play a role in crime fighting, and must play a greater role going forward. Some communities run neighbourhood watches and vibrant Community Policing forums but many others do not.
In order to enhance collaboration:
- in partnership with SAPS, functioning Community Policing Fora will be established in every policing area in the Metro and will engage in real crime prevention activities;
- Metro Police specialised units will be re-established and revitalised to combat specific crime types and Metro Police will be required to participate in all CPF activities in their area;
- we will increase communication and collaboration between CPF leadership, SAPS station commanders and Metro Police commanders;
Any criminal who enters a neighbourhood with an intention to commit a crime is unable to do so without being seen by a member of the community. Improved communication between community members, the SAPS, private security and Metro Police can be the difference between a crime being committed or prevented.
Durban Metro Police are grossly understaffed and lacking specialised units. We would urgently address the staffing, equipment and training shortages and establish specialised units to tackle specific crimes. We will emphasise the enforcement of bylaws by the Metro Police in order to combat the present culture of petty criminality.
We want the Durban Metro Police to be regarded as the Guardians of our Metro. Only through effective law enforcement can we build an efficient municipality which delivers for all.
Because the DA delivers for all!
Sithuthukisa wonke umuntu!
Ons lewer dienste aan almal!
Cllr Ronnie Veeran
DA eThekwini Mayoral Candidate
082 371 7698
072 118 8556