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More cops on Cape Town streets

More than 100 new metro police officers will hit Cape Town’s streets over the next few months, as the department beefs up its specialised units after receiving a multimillion-rand boost this week.

This week, the City of Cape Town approved its budget for the next financial year, which begins in July.

The funds for policing will also go partly to buying more vehicles and hand-held radios for officers, as well as to the launch of the Smartcop system.

Safety and Security was allocated R1.3 billion for its operating budget and R52 million for its capital budget. Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith explained that the operating budget had increased by R30m since the draft budget had been tabled earlier this year.

He estimated the department would now be able to hire around 115 new staff across all divisions.

At the moment, there are just over 600 metro police officers.

“There will be more metro police, traffic officers, law enforcement officers and firefighters. (Those sections) will receive an equal share,” said Smith.

Some of the new officers will work in the gang unit, which has made 107 arrests since its establishment in December.

More appointments are set for the drug enforcement unit, the liquor control unit and in the division dealing with “problem buildings”.

More public transport police will also be hired. These officers are currently based at transport hubs in Bellville, Philippi and at the city centre’s station deck. This service is expected to be extended to Wynberg, Mitchells Plain and Nyanga over the next few months.

Additional staff will also be hired to work in marine and environmental enforcement, handling issues along the shoreline.

More firefighters and traffic officers will also be employed. In a new project, school resource officers will be appointed to “improve safety in the most troubled schools”.

For the first time, law enforcement reservists will also be brought on boared.

Smith said in some cases officers had to share vehicles. He said additional vehicles meant more staff would be mobile and able to respond to incidents. Older vehicles were costing more money in maintenance. These would be phased out.

Hand-held radios will be bought, which would address a major shortage. “We can catch up on the backlog, where some staff were not connected to dispatch,” said Smith.

The Smartcop system will also start operating later this year.

“Our traffic vehicles will be the first of any city to sport dashboard cameras to help make our roads safer. These types of smart policing interventions allow us to do more with less and drive intelligent policing,” Smith added.

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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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Parliament move mooted

Parliament’s future in Cape Town has again been called into question, with a new proposal for it to be moved to Gauteng.

During Tuesday’s debate on Parliament’s R1.763 billion budget, during which the institution came under severe criticism from opposition benches, a long-standing critic of its Cape Town location, ANC MP Vincent Smith, said it would work better if it was moved.

“South Africa is probably the only country worldwide where the seat of the legislature is more than 1 000km way from the seat of government,” he said.

Smith noted that MPs were frequently criticised for the expenses the current arrangement necessitated – such as flights, car-hire and accommodation.

Michael Bagraim, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in response on Wednesday he was “shocked to the core” that the issue had been raised again.

“It’s been debated repeatedly and proven, on every occasion, to be too costly and cumbersome.”

Bagraim warned that a host of highly qualified staff would have to be uprooted and there would be a “staggering” cost for new buildings.

Parliament’s seat in Cape Town has been challenged on a number of occasions in recent years – most recently last November, also by Smith.

Prior to that, in 2009, the issue was raised by President Kgalema Motlanthe, who said hosting itin Cape Town was an “expensive practice”.

Motlanthe said a ministerial task team looking to curb wasteful government spending was investigating its possible relocation and that its

report would go before the cabinet for consideration before any decision was taken.

No report followed, however, and no decision was taken

.

Cape Town Partnership’s Andrew Boraine said on Wednesday that Cape Town should never believe it had a right to host Parliament, but had continually to earn it. “Cape Town cannot be complacent,” he said. “It’s our job to make this an attractive city to everyone, including MPs and government.”

Boraine cautioned that a full analysis would need to be done to calculate precisely how much such a move could save, and its cost.

If ever Parliament did move, however, Boraine said there would be no shortage of takers for its properties.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Politics

 

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DA has cleaned ANC stables – Zille

A year the 2011 local government polls, the DA claims it has put to rights much of the “damage” wreaked by the ANC in the 13 municipalities it snatched.

Most of the new DA-run municipalities were off to a good start, “cleaning out the stables they inherited” and salvaging municipal finances, DA leader Helen Zille said in a report on the party’s achievements in the past year. She added that it took some months for the full extent of the “damage” to become apparent.

The DA won 13 new councils – Bitou, Breede Valley, Drakenstein, George, Hantam, Hessequa, Karoo Hoogland, Knysna, Laingsburg, Langeberg, Nama Khoi, Saldanha Bay and Witzenberg.

Zille said the outgoing administrations were, as a rule, anything but co-operative.

“Issues included missing documents, break-ins, harassment and theft, as well as damaged, broken or stolen equipment.”

In many cases, she said, these actions were not simply vindictive, but apparently designed to destroy records, including clues to corruption.

The four biggest new DA municipalities – Breede Valley, Drakenstein, George and Saldanha Bay – were nearing financial collapse.

“Unaffordable excesses like international travel, food for councillors, mayors’ cars and, most costly of all, jobs for pals, meant that most of these councils faced a crisis of liquidity,” Zille said.

The new DA administrations were also hamstrung when taking corrective action, as all had to operate using budgets passed by the previous ANC administrations in the last few days before elections.

“In three municipalities – Bitou, Drakenstein and Hantam – the last ANC budget did not even cover staff salaries for the next year. Under the new DA administration all three were forced to take emergency measures… just to pay staff.”

Breede Valley’s financial crisis epitomised the situation at all these local councils.

Zille said the ANC had continued to spend freely, despite the recession.

“When the DA came to office, our first business was to cut this undisciplined expenditure on ‘nice-to-haves’. In the three largest new DA municipalities, Breede Valley, Drakenstein and George alone, these cuts saved some R140 million in the first year (2011/12). This process continues into the second year of DA governance.”

Zille added that one of the biggest inherited problems in municipalities was the blurring of the critical distinction between party and state.

“Many municipal managers under the ANC display openly partisan behaviour,” she charged. She made reference to a Saldanha case where the municipal manager – a former ANC party secretary for the Boland region – appointed a number of party members to the municipal housing and social services departments. “Despite the 18 officials in its housing department, Saldanha Bay constructed only 646 houses in 2010, while DA-run Swartland, a smaller municipality with only two housing officials, built over 2 000.”

Zille accused the ANC of treating municipalities as employment agencies, but said the new DA administrations had already demonstrated that impartial and honest administration was the key to delivery.

But she conceded that it would take a long time to turn around the affected municipalities, before people started to see and feel results.

Asked to comment, ANC’s metro chairman Xolani Sotashe rubbished Zille’s report card as yet another DA public relations exercise.

There was a forensic investigation into shady deals involving officials of the city of Cape Town, he said, “but as expected, the DA remains quiet about it”.

Sotashe added the city had for two consecutive years failed to spend its budget, “and it appears that for the current financial year the DA-led city will again have an under-spending problem”.

He pointed out that Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille conceded last week that there were continuing inequalities.

“The DA was going around saying that the city was on the brink of collapse when they took over, when in fact the municipality had well over R2 billion in reserve in 2006.”

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Politics

 

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Tag opens door for death row prisoner

Twenty-three years ago, Paul Evans was sentenced to hang and put on death row.

On Tuesday, prison officials strapped an electronic monitoring device to his ankle as he started a new chapter of freedom.

Evans, 44, was arrested for murder and robbery at the age of 18 and was sentenced three years later.

The demise of apartheid and termination of the death penalty resulted in Evans’s sentence being commuted to life imprisonment.

He received a second chance when the Department of Correctional Services chose him as one of the parolees to be fitted with the new monitoring device.

Evans was overwhelmed when he spoke about where his life was now compared with 23 years ago.

“I knew what my sentence would be and I was prepared to die. I also couldn’t live with myself for what I did.

“When Nelson Mandela took away the death penalty, it was a big adjustment.

“I had to change my thought pattern to spend at least 20 years in prison.”

Evans was denied parole on three occasions. His fourth attempt was successful and he became a day-parolee after serving 21 years and seven months of his life term.

As a day parolee, he is free to leave the correctional centre but has to sleep there. “I learnt a lot about my life, the cost of crime and what it meant to the people outside. I have no intention of coming back. It took me 12 years to realise there is life beyond prison and I met amazing people who helped rehabilitate me.

“This is an opportunity and I will grab it with both hands to lead a better life,” he said.

Evans studied sports psychology, electrical engineering and IT technology while he was incarcerated. He said he was looking for a job.

On Tuesday, Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula launched the pilot project for the electronic monitoring system at the Drakenstein prison.

The department will run the project for the next 12 months at a cost of R6.5 million.

So far 108 parolees have been fitted with the ankle device and the department plans to fit another 150 parolees.

The device is clamped on to the parolee’s ankle, activated and linked to a GPS system within seconds.

A control room will monitor the parolee and an alarm will go off when curfews and conditions are violated.

Paedophiles, for example, will be restricted from going near places where children are present, such as schools.

The device must remain attached to the parolee at all times. If it is tampered with, an alarm will be activated.

The department’s director for supervision of parolees, Ronald Ntuli, said: “So far, the project has been successful and we can track parolees anytime, anywhere.

“The cost of the device is R118 a day compared to the cost of more than R300 a day to maintain a prisoner, so it also addresses overcrowding.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said she would receive regular reports on how the system was faring.

“There is a need for the department to build a community correctional system that will earn the respect of the judiciary and society.

“We are releasing people and some of them have committed serious crimes but the public can have confidence and feel safe that there is a monitoring system in place and should not feel intimidated that inmates are being released,” she said.

* The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeff Radebe, has opened the first court building in the small farming community of Ashton. The court was completed in October 2010 at a cost of R7.6 million.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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MyCiTi bus service to Cape Flats ‘not feasible’

The expansion of the MyCiti bus service to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain doesn’t make economic sense – and it’s only being done for political reasons, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber also believes the taxi organisations in the area will not easily be convinced to make way for the city’s integrated rapid transport system, which already functions along the West Coast and in the inner city.

“The idea of a quality MyCiti bus service to the Cape Flats might be politically attractive – but how much will it cost and where will the subsidies come from? Conditions are right for a rapid bus service on the West Coast. The distance is relatively short, there is no rail competition and the population is affluent enough to pay economic fares,” chamber president Michael Bagraim told a meeting between the city and the chamber on Tuesday.

He said a similar service to the Cape Flats would “double trip lengths”.

“There would be no dedicated roadway and the population cannot afford economic fares. We are trying to model our rapid transport services on some highly successful public transport services in two compact South American cities.

“The difference is this: the average trip length in the model cities is 7km. In Cape Town the average bus trip is 20km. In London the average public transport trip is just 8km,” said Bagraim.

He said this meant buses would be less productive here.

“Many of them will be able to make just one return trip in peak commuting times,” said Bagraim.

Mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron said he failed to understand why the chamber was not in support of integrated transport.

He said employees would benefit most when the service started at the end of 2013.

“We will also be engaging with taxi associations in the coming months. We understand it’s going to be complex, but our track record on the West Coast is going to assist us,” said Herron.

He told the meeting that the Metro South East had some of the highest densities in the City of Cape Town and there was an opportunity to provide important links between high-density areas through an integrated public transport service.

“As can be seen from the 2008 analysis, the Metro South East rail corridor is operating over capacity.

“We believe there is a definite need for a complementary trunk to the rail,” said Herron

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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Victim tells of horror attack on freeway

Crash victims on the R300 freeway are being targeted by criminals and some say the accidents were caused deliberately.

Paramedics have told the Cape Times that injured motorists are robbed and their cars stripped.

In one of the most extreme cases, 27-year-old Claudia Dalias swerved to avoid a pedestrian, was flung through her car’s windscreen and while she was lying seriously injured, scores of looters emptied her car of all her belongings and stole parts of it.

Both Dalias’s legs were crushed, both lungs were punctured, she had broken ribs, a 15cm cut across her scalp and a 6cm gash on her face.

She believes her accident was intentionally caused so that she could be robbed.

Last week, speaking minutes after standing up for the first time with a prosthetic leg and taking her first few steps since the December 2 crash, Dalias had this warning to motorists planning to use the R300: “Avoid it as much as possible.”

IOL  ct car300 (25335630) (25342710)The wreckage of the car Claudia Dalias was driving on the R300.

CAPE TIMES

She said the accident had made her determined to try to improve road safety and hoped speaking out would prevent similar incidents occurring.

Police who were at the accident scene told Dalias that more than 50 people had stormed her car after the crash.

 

“A detective did say he knows they do it on purpose, especially over the Christmas season,” she said.

Five years ago the R300, which is about 15km long and is a major link between the N1 and N2, was named the most dangerous road by metro police because of the high accident and crime rate.

It is still a crime hot spot.

Provincial traffic spokesman Jacques Mostert told the Cape Times the R300 was dangerous.

Asked whe ther accidents had been intentionally caused by criminals, he responded: “We have claims; however (we) cannot verify that this is the actual cause for accidents.”

Police spokesman Andre Traut said criminals would use any means to stop a car.

On Monday, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said that based on CCTV footage from cameras along the R300, he had not spotted any crime trends.

But he said isolated incidents could occur.

At least three paramedics told the Cape Times that it was not unusual for criminals to purposely cause an accident so they could rob the victim.

A paramedic, who declined to be named, told the Cape Times that criminals were known to target motorists on roads alongside informal settlements, in some case throwing rocks at windscreens or physically obstructing cars.

“It’s heartbreaking when a patient asks you to call their mom from their cellphone. And you have to tell them: ‘No, your phone and everything is stolen’,” he said.

Describing her accident, Dalias, a brand-builder for Edward Snell and Co, said that she was about 500m from the Stellenbosch Arterial off-ramp, when she swerved to avoid the pedestrian.

“I was flung out of the vehicle through the front window as I was not wearing a safety belt. However, police stated I would have been crushed in the vehicle (had I been wearing one),” Dalias said.

Her car was looted while paramedics tended to her. Items stolen included cases of alcohol meant to be delivered to clients, CDs, a laptop, clothing, her handbag and car parts.

Dalias spent 31 days in an intensive care unit, half the time in a coma.

Her right leg was amputated at the knee and she had extensive surgery on her left leg.

Dalias underwent 20 operations and more are planned.

“Now the battle to raise funds starts, to pay for further prosthetics that I will need as I get older.”

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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Clean up your act, Mayor tells city

MAYOR Patricia de Lille has promised that poorer areas will be as clean as the city centre once she has whipped city officials into shape.

In an interview De Lille slammed the city and some officials for failure to monitor refuse collection and to keep poor areas clean, saying more developed areas like the city centre were being prioritised.

She said companies contracted by the city to clean some communities were not being monitored well enough by city officials and the efficiency of cleaning services and refuse collection in some reas was dropping drastically.

She said Cape Town received accolades for being a clean city, but this was not reflected in certain communities like Nyanga and Athlone.

“Part of the city’s policy is to get services from SMMEs where we go for smaller contractors. But the quality of the service… is dropping because there’s no monitoring from the city’s side. So we’re going to beef up monitoring in the areas so we get the same kind of cleanliness as in the city centre,” said De Lille.

Areas of concern included Nyanga, Gugulethu, Athlone, Manenberg, Bonteheuwel and Sir Lowry’s Pass Village where there were protests last week.

“It’s also the areas where there are a number of people in backyards. We can’t give one household one wheelie bin. This will be a budgetary issue because we will have to buy more wheelie bins. We will now be employing extra people,” said De Lille.

She said in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village she would encourage the community to help the city monitor the contractor.

Gavin Silber of the Social Justice Coalition agreed that monitoring contractors had been an issue in informal settlements. Last year the Social Justice Coalition and Ndifuna Ukwazi complained and called for service delivery agreements between the city and the contractors to be released so they could be held accountable.

“Refuse collection in informal settlements is all outsourced and private whereas in the city it isn’t.”

He said in the Taiwan informal settlement, for example, residents were being offered refuse removal bags once a week, but some residents hadn’t received anything in six months though they were being forced to pay for these bags.

“Refuse collection is far below par and it’s all linked to sanitation.

ANC chief whip Xolani Sotashe said: “The City of Cape Town is only looking after affluent areas. The poor areas are in limbo. It is so filthy here I wonder how some people can live like this.”

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Politics

 

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