The Eastern Cape police say they have “noted with great concern” newspaper reports that the Parliamentary portfolio committee on safety and security considers them “to be the worst province in SA, in terms of policing.”
A statement from the office of provincial police commissioner Mpumelelo Landu says the comments are attributed to committee chairwoman Maggie Sotyu after her committee visited Mthatha (formerly Umtata), in the east of the massive south coast province.
It adds that the report mentioned no specific issues, making generalised complaints instead.
Landu does concede that “there is definite room for improvement at our stations in terms of our service delivery and the utilisation of resources.
“We are however of the opinion that we are delivering a service which is inline with the Batho Pele (people first) principles,” he says.
In the statement Landu adds that crime has seen a steady decline in the Eastern Cape and ‘for the last seven months (the period 1 April to 31 October), contact crimes decreased with 9.79%.” He notes this is better than the national target, which was 7%.
“The only category of the crime depicting an increase is aggravated robbery which includes house robberies and business robberies. This new phenomenon is receiving our highest priority and is being addressed,” he says.
Landu further says that his 190 police stations are performing well in comparison to others elsewhere in SA.
“The performance of the 190 police stations and 28 clusters in our province are evaluated on a monthly basis on a Computerised Performance Chart system that is linked countrywide and indicates the efficiency levels of stations and provinces in comparison to the performance of the rest of the country.
“The current index rating has placed the visible and crime prevention efficiency of policing in our province as third best in the country. The detective service specifically is in position number five, which need improvement but indicates a satisfactory level.”
Landu says resource allocation and usage is also an ongoing concern. He says he is especially worried that “stakeholders involved in policing” do not always realise “that the SAPS is guided by specific policies and instructions” in that regard.
He explains that the resource allocation guide (RAG) stipulates exactly how many police officers should be allocated to a station or unit and how many “specific resources such as vehicles and computers” should be allocated.
“Often this is not taken into consideration – by observers and members alike – that we first need to resource those stations which are under-resourced in terms of the RAG, before we can give in addition to others. This guideline (RAG) is compiled by the Office of the National Commissioner after the evaluation of the station`s profile and outputs, and is updated every year.”
Regarding vehicles, Landu notes that the province procured 951 vehicles worth R115 million in the 2007-8 financial year and 917 vehicles at a cost of R116 million so far this financial year. “This has addressed most of our requirements.”
Landu also addressed some general concerns:
· Police stations are not performing the way they should: “stations are evaluated on a quarterly basis where specific areas of concern are raised personally by the Provincial Commissioner with the Station Commissioner. The station`s performance ratings and complaints received from the communities are discussed and measures taken to address the challenges facing the station.”
· The capacity of station commissioners is questionable: “151 of our 190 Station Commissioners have completed a station management programme which started in January 2006. The programme is aimed at sharpening the skills and abilities of station managers in terms of general management and financial skills and also focuses on specific areas of policing such as crime prevention and operational planning.
· “Absenteeism is a matter that is constantly being addressed and we do find at rural stations where the numbers of [officers] allocated to the station are very small, that only one member absent from duty, can influences policing of that station negatively. We thus, always attempt to augment our manpower with reservists.
· “Response times are determined in terms of the level of the category of complaints. Life threatening complaints and perpetrators still on a scene, receive preference. In rural areas response time is adversely affected by road conditions.
“Other than the above reflected in the newspaper, Me Maggie Sotyu has provided me with the names of six police stations, mentioning specifically the issues with regard to resource needs. This will be receiving my management`s immediate attention,” Landu said.