DA in Western Cape sees red after not being invited to Cele's engagement in Gugulethu

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Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Gallo Images/Darren Stewart
  • The City of Cape Town and Western Cape government has slammed Police Minister Bheki Cele for not inviting them to a community meeting in Gugulethu.
  • Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith says he first heard of the meeting after being approached by News24 for comment.
  • Cele says the meeting was with constituents in the area and not political.

The DA-led City of Cape Town and Western Cape government are fuming after not being invited to a community meeting in Gugulethu, Cape Town, on Tuesday. 

More than 30 community organisations - including community policing forums (CPFs) from Nyanga and Gugulethu - were in attendance to discuss critical issues of crime, policing concerns, and challenges faced by the police.

Police Minister Bheki Cele was present during the meeting. 

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said the City was not invited to participate in the imbizo, adding News24's request for comment was the first time he was aware of the meeting.

"Minister Cele's favourite hobby is to have these talk shops, not invite the City, and then spend a large portion of the meeting bemoaning the fact that the City is not there. These meetings are generally political theatre."

He added despite having active neighbourhood watches, the community experiences high crime levels driven by extortion rackets, violent opportunistic crime, and business robberies.

"There are severe issues in the community, but these are not resolved in these meetings. We have engagements with the community regularly and often more fruitfully."

Smith added a CCTV camera network was operational in the area, and more cameras would be installed this year based on hot spots identified by the police.

He said Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers were also active in the precinct.

"The police minister must focus on resources. He keeps saying that we've gotten the lion's share of resources, but we're still in a deficit. Many of our stations are below the national average of one police officer per 375 people and well below international best practices. Many areas across the metro are eight times below that average."

WATCH | 'Shut up!' Cele rips into lobby group leader, then police drag him away

Smith added increasing the number of detectives in the precinct would help reduce organised crime that appeared to be rearing its head in the area.

Community Safety MEC Reagan Allen said the provincial government was also not invited to the community meeting - this despite a public commitment in October to invite the province as a key stakeholder.

"The national minister of police has consistently shown his disregard for the Western Cape government by not inviting us to events and engagements when he is in our area. With today's event, an invitation was once again not extended - and the provincial CPF board and the City of Cape Town have also not received an invitation," added Allen.

He said LEAP officers were deployed to Gugulethu in July last year after "data and information … showed that urgent intervention was required".

Based on crime statistics, the Gugulethu police station was one of the top 30 murder stations in the country. 

However, it moved off the list after the LEAP deployments, said Allen.

He added:

Minister Cele would do well to stop in the way he's operating and work with us if he is serious about combating crime. If his choice is to not work with the various structures in the Western Cape, he should be brave enough to say so.

Speaking to reporters after the engagements, Cele said it was a meeting with the area's constituents, not the department.

"Where one is the minister, we invite everyone but encourage working together with all structures, including the City and the province, but because this is a constituency meeting organised by the Member of Parliament in the area, it was not necessary.

"The crime situation is not only focused on policing and arrests; it's also about working with environmental design. We have to work with the City regarding lighting and housing in the area; the police do not do these things but across the government structures," he added.

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