At the end of last year, the Western Cape Police Ombudsman concluded a report on the “Concerning decline in the number of SAPS police reservists in the Western Cape”. This followed a complaint lodged by then Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Community Safety, Mireille Wenger MPL. As we work towards implementing the most comprehensive safety plan in the country, Minister Fritz calls on SAPS to strengthen this essential network of safety officials.
Police reservists play an important support role to SAPS, acting as force multipliers in visible policing, administrative and operative functions. As per the report, police reservists strengthen “police capacity during high crime periods”, which we are no doubt experiencing.
Minister Fritz said, “The decline has been attributed to, amongst others, reservists being dismissed for having criminal records, failure to perform the mandatory 16-hour voluntary service and to voluntary resignations (often owing to differential treatment). The report concludes that the decline of police reservists’ places increased pressure on SAPS resources.”
“As we implement the Premier’s safety plan, which will see additional law enforcement and investigators deployed in areas where and when they are needed most; it is essential that SAPS strengthen its important network of police reservists. While the safety plan will go a long way in maintaining the peace instilled by the army; the SAPS must also ensure that functions such as the police reservists and detective services are up to the task of making the Western Cape safer for all who live in it. Ultimately, the success of the Premier’s safety plan relies on the ability of all sectors of government to work together,” said Minister Fritz.
Minister Fritz further added, “As per the report, the shortage of SAPS Human Resources results in an increase in response time, delays in responding to complaints, travelling of long distances in certain jurisdictions, and additional strain placed on resources due to the need to escort Emergency Medical Services teams in red zones, or attending to mentally-ill patients. Clearly, police reservists have an important role to play in strengthening SAPS amid their resource constraints.”
Under the leadership of Minister Fritz, the Department of Community Safety will continue to use every tool at its disposal to safeguard the Western Cape.