Half of Western Cape's new law enforcement officers are women
Women make up almost half of the Western Cape’s new Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (Leap) officers being sent into some of the country's most dangerous neighbourhoods.
The officers are being deployed as part of the Western Cape safety plan, which was launched late in 2019 when the province and the City of Cape Town faced a murder epidemic.
Premier Alan Winde said the province would spend R1bn a year in a bid to halve the province’s murder rate in a decade.
He said 3,000 law enforcement officers would be trained to plug the policing gap caused by the understaffing and underfunding of the SA Police Service in the Western Cape.
The effort to bring Covid-19 under control initially shifted the province’s attention away from the safety plan, but the lockdown and the alcohol sales ban temporarily relieved the pressure of crime and gangsterism.
On Tuesday, the province deployed 191 new Leap officers to Kraaifontein, Mfuleni and Harare in Khayelitsha, bringing to 749 the number of officers deployed in the past year.
Half of the recruits are women, reflecting that women often play a leading role in keeping their communities safe as part of neighbourhood watches and community policing forums.
To mark the deployment of the new officers, Winde and Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith joined them, accompanied by neighbourhood watches and the police, on a “female-led” walkabout through Delft on Tuesday.
“We specifically visited Delft because the neighbourhood watch cluster is led and predominantly assisted by female community members,” Winde told TimesLIVE.
“This is the case in many of our most crime-afflicted communities and I wanted to use the walkabout as an opportunity to acknowledge and thank the many women who are protecting their communities.”
Winde said a further 106 Leap officers would be activated once they have completed their firearm competency training by the end of September.
After years of fractious relations between the police service and the Western Cape government, relations have normalised and an integrated working relationship between the two entities is starting to emerge, he said.
Winde also recognised the partnership between the Western Cape police, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government.
“Through our collective efforts, we have deployed significant additional law enforcement resources to our communities and made residents feel safer.
“We have a long way to go, but by working together in this way I know we can achieve our objective of delivering a safer, more prosperous Western Cape for all.”