Protests and land invasions escalate in Cape Town
Protests and land invasions have escalated sharply in the City of Cape Town‚ diverting law enforcement officers‚ metro police and traffic services from their core duties.
This was revealed on Monday when the city released its latest “enforcement statistics”‚ revealing that its own enforcement agencies made 12‚063 arrests in the previous financial year‚ excluding warrant arrests‚ a 17% increase on the preceding period.
Some of the key trends to emerge in the preceding 12 months included a 53% year-on-year increase in the number of land invasions recorded and a 249% increase in the number of protests.
“This resulted in a knock-on effect on planned enforcement operations for law enforcement‚ metro police and traffic services as resources had to be diverted to assist the South African Police Service in terms of public order policing‚ effecting road closures and diverting traffic.
"Apart from the fact that other enforcement priorities were compromised‚ there was also the cost of damage to City infrastructure and resources like buildings and vehicles‚ as well as a financial impact due to overtime costs‚” the city said in a statement.
Law enforcement staff also had to focus on transgressions of the Water By-law amid an increase in complaints from the public about water abuse during the drought.
Taxi-related strikes‚ a wage-related strike by bus operators and ongoing arson attacks on Metrorail’s infrastructure not only took a toll on but also placed strain on the road network and enforcement staff employed to police transgressions.
“We recorded a 100% increase in the number of overloading offences in the public transport sector. While there is no definitive proof‚ we cannot rule out the possibility that this might be a reflection of the battle that commuters have had and continue to have in getting to and from work‚ and the willingness of some operators to cash in on the instability in the sector – with no regard for the lives of their passengers‚” said the city.
Criminals were also targeting city law enforcement staff for their firearms. “The Metro Police Department noted a 180% increase in attacks on staff year-on-year‚ from 21 in 2016/17 to 59 in 2017/18.
“The result is that we have to reconfigure our deployment patterns and have more officers working in groups to ensure their safety. The physical and psychological effect of these attacks cannot be ignored. An officer who has been traumatised by an attack needs time off work to recover; some do so sooner than others. What this means is fewer officers on patrol to ensure public safety‚” said the city.
The city’s Safety and Security Directorate consists of six departments – the 107 Public Emergency Communication Centre; Disaster Risk Management Centre; Fire and Rescue Service; Metro Police Department; Law Enforcement Department and Cape Town Traffic Service.