Mitchells Plain police 'understaffed'

Residents agree with the Community Safety Dept. that police are understaffed.

Residents agree with the community safety dept. that MPlain police are understaffed. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - While Western Cape police and the Community Safety Department continue to squabble over police to population ratios in gang affected areas, Mitchells Plain residents have agreed that the South African Police Service (Saps) in their area is understaffed.

Figures released by Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato earlier this week show there's one police officer to more than 3000 people in Mitchells Plain.

Provincial Police Commissioner, Arno Lamoer, has disputed the numbers saying it is in fact one police officer to about 468 people.

While Plato said he received the information from provincial police, Lamoer has labelled him a liar.

One resident said his house has been burgled several times and he has received little to no help from police.

"Last year I had four to five cases where my house was broken into and the police only came once."

Meanwhile, the Community Safety Department's Greg Wagner said they have the figures on hand.

"We have this information that was requested by our office on a letter head from the Saps, signed by the provincial commissioner's office."

But the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has said nationally, police to citizen ratios can generally be improved.

The ISS said policing could be improved if there were three police officers for every 1,000 citizens in the Western Cape.

The institute's Johan Burger said the national average is one official to every 1,000 citizens.

"I would find it extremely strange to see a situation where you have it almost the other way around."