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Gang crime, passenger rail not even on President’s SONA agenda


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Gang crime, passenger rail not even on President’s SONA agenda

City of Cape Town

9th February 2024


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Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the City is concerned that President Cyril Ramaphosa had nothing to say in SONA about the crisis of gang, gun and drug crime. The President also failed to mention passenger rail, with no update provided on the delayed National Devolution Strategy and plans to hand the service over to capable metros.

‘The President cited national SAPS recruitment figures and arrest stats, but that is not the point. The police remain heavily under-resourced, especially SAPS investigative capacity, and there is a particular problem in gaining convictions. Conviction rates for gang crime are in the single digits.


‘Part of the problem is that gangs have infiltrated SAPS. Police guns are finding their way to gangsters through corrupt back channels. This has led to innocent lives lost in communities – including children – as gun violence rages on due to drug turf wars.

‘Crime was at best an afterthought right at the end of the President’s address. What the President needed to demonstrate, especially for us in Cape Town, is strong action to deal with the corrupt elements in SAPS who are conspiring with gangs, as well as urgent steps to devolve more policing powers to municipal law enforcement to help SAPS fight crime,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.


Hill-Lewis said with more policing powers – particularly for criminal investigations – City officers can build prosecution-ready case dockets on gang, gun and drug crime. 

City policing operations confiscated 447 illegal firearms in the last two financial years, including police guns which had fallen into the hands of criminals. Firearm-related arrests are up 35% in 22/23, with law enforcement also doubling annual drug arrests from 4 000 to 8 000 over the same period.

‘The President and his Cabinet have the power to confer additional peace officer powers for municipal officers. The City has thousands of officers immediately available as a force multiplier to SAPS for criminal investigations into gang, gun, and drug crime – all we need from the President is the additional policing powers.

‘South Africans will this year have an opportunity to elect a new government with the political will to devolve policing powers so we can maximise all available resources in the fight against crime. In the meantime, we will not stop standing up on behalf of communities living in daily fear of crime,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

Urgent devolution of passenger rail

‘The lack of safe, affordable, working trains is a daily and costly struggle, especially for lower income households. 

‘We were disappointed to hear nothing about the delayed Rail Devolution Strategy, which President Ramaphosa last year promised would be out before the end of 2023. There is continued silence about the ongoing delay which will ultimately necessitate an intergovernmental dispute. We would much rather have the President accept our standing offer for a joint working committee to fast-track rail devolution, and to set a clear deadline for handing over passenger rail in Cape Town,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

The City’s ongoing rail feasibility study has found that lower income families in our city would save R932 million a year with working, efficient trains. Functional rail will also sustain over 51 000 jobs and add R11 billion to the local economy each year.            

Issued by City of Cape Town


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