COSATU to strike over lack of action against crime

Union members will march in Cape Town in August to protest about government’s “lacklustre” approach to rising crime

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Union leaders announced a strike on 4 August. From left, Michael Helu (Agricultural Food and Allied Democratic Workers Union provincial secretary), Motlatsi Tsubane (COSATU provincial chair), Malvern De Bruyn (COSATU provincial secretary), Ernest Theron (South African Communist Party provincial treasurer), Vicky Sampson (Trade Union for Musicians of South Africa president), and Jaco Van Heerden (Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa). Photo: Marecia Damons

Unions affiliated to the Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) are calling members out on strike on 4 August in protest against the government’s “lacklustre” approach to rising crime rates in Cape Town.

Provincial secretary Malvern de Bruyn told a briefing on Wednesday that all spheres of government “don’t respect ordinary people”. He said they “undermine the safety of the poor in the province”.

De Bruyn said the union is demanding that the national (ANC) and provincial (DA) governments end gang violence, conduct regular police patrols in industrial areas, improve safety at railway stations and allow communities to evaluate their police stations.

He said the union applied for 3,000 people to participate in the protected strike. “We plan to bring the economy to a standstill so that the government can see how angry workers are.”

The union plans to deliver lists of demands to the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement department, the Western Cape premier and the national police minister.

Michael Helu, provincial secretary of the Agricultural Food and Allied Democratic Workers Union (AFADWU), said communities with higher crime rates need adequate police resources.

“Khayelitsha has more than a million residents. Constantia has far fewer people but has an adequate number of police and private security,” he said.

“If you are poor, you don’t need security and if you have money or live in a certain area, then you need security. That is how government treats our citizens,” said Helu

Police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut denied that police resources in the Western Cape are unequally distributed in favour of affluent areas.

“SAPS resources are allocated to police stations according to crime patterns, and in this province, we have identified the top ten crime-affected stations, as well as the top 30 stations where serious and violent crimes required additional policing. These stations are prioritised when resources are allocated,” Traut told GroundUp.

He said that SAPS applied “careful consideration” when allocating resources, and that reported crime is “the major factor” when numbers are determined. The demographics of a population and their economic position do not influence this process, he said.

“Industrial areas are policed on the same principle, and where crime is more prevalent, more resources will be deployed,” said Traut.

Update on 2022-07-21 10:28

This article has been updated to include comment from SAPS.

TOPICS:  Crime Labour unions

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