/ 11 June 2024

Safety MEC blames a lack of police resources for shootings in Khayelitsha

Nightfall: As the sun sets over Table Mountain the informal settlements become dark because homes have no electricity.
Eight people have been killed in three incidents in the Cape Flats township over the weekend. (David Harrison/M&G)

A lack of resources allocated to the South African Police Service (SAPS) is hobbling efforts to fight crime in Khayelitsha, the Western Cape MEC for police oversight and community safety, Reagen Allen, has said.

He made the comment after a bloody weekend in which gunmen shot dead eight people in the Cape Town township.

“From a SAPS perspective, Khayelitsha, like so many other areas across the Western Cape, is severely under-resourced and we had to step in with the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) to assist them,” Allen said.  

The police-to-population ratio in Khayelitsha is about one police officer for every 800 residents, which he said puts a strain on law enforcement.

On Saturday afternoon, police said they had responded to a call about three children aged four, 11 and 12 and an adult man were gunned down at a barbershop in Khayelitsha’s Site C area.

Unknown gunmen, travelling in a Toyota Quantum, entered the barbershop and asked people inside about a certain individual carrying a firearm, before opening fire. Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said Khayelitsha police said the motive for the attack was unknown.

At about the same time, two men were shot dead in neighbouring Site B. 

The shooting spree continued in Site C on Sunday when police discovered the bodies of two men with gunshot wounds inside a shack. 

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has urged the police to investigate what he called the “local extortion syndicates” running across the Western Cape. 

“This brazen and ruthless mass shooting was well-organised, well-armed and undertaken by criminals who, at this stage, do not fear the police. This situation must change by ensuring arrests and convictions,” he said in a statement

“I call on the SAPS to spare no resources in making arrests. There simply must be valuable information within the community on how to trace these gangsters and ensure justice for the young lives lost so tragically.”

In April, eight people were killed in Harare, Khayelitsha. 

Meanwhile, Eskom said it had temporarily suspended services in eNdlovini, Khayelitsha, after the power utility’s team was attacked by armed men on Sunday. The officials escaped but their vehicle was damaged in the attack. 

In a statement, Eskom said the disruption would cause delays in service delivery which could lead to extended periods of power outages in the area. 

This is not the first time Eskom employees have been attacked while on duty in Khayelitsha; in April, Eskom withdrew from Site B in Khayelitsha after staff members were attacked, and one was severely injured.

Eskom says the safety of its staff has been at risk in Khayelitsha and surrounding areas since 2020.