Western Cape MEC of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, recently conducted a series of announced and unannounced oversight visits to South African Police Services (SAPS) stations in the Garden Route District. These visits aimed to assess the adherence to standard operating procedures and to address concerns regarding unprofessional behavior among SAPS officers. Furthermore, MEC Allen launched a reward system to encourage residents to report the location of illegal firearms, as part of the ongoing effort to reduce crime and enhance community safety.
During the oversight visits, MEC Allen attended the morning parade at 05:45 at the Mossel Bay SAPS, as well as the afternoon parades at the Thembalethu and Knysna SAPS stations. The parades serve as an important operational briefing where officers are tasked and briefed on their duties, and critical information from the previous shift is shared. However, MEC Allen expressed deep concern over the conduct of the Mossel Bay officers upon his arrival. He noted unprofessionalism and dismissive behavior among the officers and was not allowed to observe the parade. MEC Allen promptly raised the issue with SAPS management in the area, who assured him that such conduct would not be tolerated in the future.
In an effort to encourage residents to report illegal firearms, posters explaining the reward system were placed at several SAPS stations, including Mossel Bay, Da Gamaskop, Grootbrak Rivier, Thembalethu, Conville, Pacaltsdorp, George Central, and Knysna. The relaunched reward system, which commenced at the end of April this year, offers up to R 5,000 for information leading to the recovery of an illegal firearm.
Residents can report the location of illegal firearms by dialing 021 466 0011, and they have the option to remain anonymous or share their details with trusted SAPS officers who will handle the calls. It is crucial to note that the personal information of individuals reporting firearms will never be disclosed publicly. Once an illegal firearm is reported, SAPS will collect it, and the individual who made the report will receive an initial reward of R 1,500. If an arrest is made directly linked to the firearm, an additional R 1,500 will be awarded. Furthermore, should a conviction be secured relating to the reported firearm, the remaining R 2,000 will be paid out to the informant.
MEC Reagen Allen emphasized the importance of removing illegal firearms from communities, citing the 4th quarter crime statistics (January to March 2023) for the 2022/23 financial year, which revealed that firearms were the leading instrument used in murders, accounting for 44.6% of cases in the province.
MEC Allen pledged to visit stations across the province, ensuring the visibility of the reward system posters and encouraging community members to utilize the opportunity to report illegal firearms. The overarching objective is to enhance community safety and reduce crime rates in the Western Cape.
The MEC reiterated the need for professional and efficient SAPS services, stating that no person utilizing SAPS services should experience secondary victimization or lack of attention. Holding SAPS accountable for their conduct is crucial, as their primary function is to serve and protect the citizens of South Africa. MEC Allen urged SAPS officers to remain committed to their oath and the citizens they vowed to safeguard.
In conclusion, the oversight visits conducted by MEC Reagen Allen shed light on the need for improvements in the conduct and professionalism of SAPS officers. Simultaneously, the relaunch of the reward system aims to foster a safer environment by encouraging residents to report illegal firearms. By taking these measures, the Western Cape government seeks to ensure the provision of professional and efficient SAPS services to its citizens, while holding the police force accountable for their actions.