The rain and cold weather did little to dampen the spirit of Khayelitsha residents, Mayor Dan Plato and mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith as they patrolled with law enforcement officers in Site C.
Last week’s initiative formed part of a series of oversight visits of the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) initiative, which is a joint undertaking between the City and the provincial government.
The Khayelitsha Leap deployment is one of five cluster deployments, the others being in Philippi, Manenberg, Bishop Lavis and Delft.
The most recent one, in Hanover Park, went live in October and Mr Smith has promised to deploy 100 additional law enforcement officers in Khayelitsha.
The aim of Leap, said Mr Smith, was to ensure increased visible enforcement, build relationships with residents, businesses and key community structures, to gather information on crime patterns and key areas of concern in their area of deployment, and to support other enforcement agencies.
He said among the aims of their patrol was to reassure the residents that they were doing all they could to make their communities a safer place to live and called on the residents to alert law enforcement about these criminals who demand protection fees from businesses operating in Khayelitsha.
“It is important to be clear on the mandate of the Leap officers, but also to understand that it takes time to make a meaningful impact.
Furthermore, it is important to understand that SAPS remains the primary agency responsible for crime prevention, particularly serious and violent crimes, the investigation of crime and the conviction of those responsible.
Leap is meant to act in support of SAPS, while ensuring compliance with the City’s by-laws. And, while officers will respond to any incident in progress, they are neither trained nor mandated to investigate crimes and to ensure prosecutions,” he said.
Phindile George, secretary of the Site C Policing Forum, said they welcomed the programme and hoped it would play a vital role in reducing crime. He added that they hoped to see the officers in the area and not just in malls and beaches.
Mr Plato said tackling crime was a collaborative effort and they were doing their best to improve safety and security in neighbourhoods in partnership with other spheres of government. He said he was pleased to see additional officers on the ground in Khayelitsha and hoped that together this project would bring more stability and peace to the community.