Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has repeated his party’s call for provinces to be given the power to run their own police services.
Winde says the current system of centralised control is not working. He says provinces will be able to better prioritise the deployment of resources to areas of greatest need as they are closer to the situation. Police Minister Bheki Cele, however, says crime knows no borders and centralised control ensures that there’s proper coordination of the fight against crime.
The constitution makes policing a national competency while provinces have an oversight role. The DA has, however, been consistently calling for provinces to be given powers to run their own police services. The party points out that the current system has seen a serious decline in policing levels, which has led to many communities feeling unsafe. Opening the debate in the NCOP on the devolution of police powers to provinces, Winde said it was time to try a different approach.
“Policing is not working at the moment. With the centralisation under a single control, coming out of Tshwane, coming out of Pretoria. We are not managing it properly. We need to change. They say if you keep doing the same thing over and over again and you’re not finding change, it’s a sign of madness. If our citizens are not getting safe and we are doing the same thing over and over again, we need to make a change.”
Another party that supports the devolution of powers is the Freedom Front Plus. Fanie Du Toit proposes a model where provincial commissioners will be directly elected.
The EFF expressed support for the centralised control. MP Sam Zandamela says high rates of youth unemployment and the service delivery and work-related protests have contributed to violent protests and crime in the country.
Minister Cele says centralised command and control of the police are crucial to ensure that the fight against crime is spread out.
Cele says instead of looking to devolve policing powers, the Western Cape should be using the resources it already has in a better way.
He says what the province should be doing is ensuring that the metro police in the City of Cape Town are fairly distributed to areas affected by crime. Cele says the city is providing resources in a skewed manner to its law enforcement unit.
“The Western Cape government continues to sabotage the efforts of adequately resourcing legitimate structures like the metro police who serve as a force multiplier in the fight of crime. Instead, those resources are pumped to fund parallel structures which add no value and those structures have an element of looking at one side.”