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Hill-Lewis urges Ramaphosa to fast-track devolution of rail, policing powers to deal with crises

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis

6th February 2024

By: Sashnee Moodley

Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

     

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Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis is looking to President Cyril Ramaphosa for answers on the delay of the national Rail Devolution Strategy, which could save lower-income families R932-million every year.

Hill-Lewis pointed out that Ramaphosa had promised that the strategy would be out in 2023, this after national Department of Transport director-general James Mlawua also said progress was being made to gazette a Devolution Strategy in 2023.

The lack of a functional passenger rail system was severely felt in Cape Town during the violent minibus-taxi stayaway, last year.

“Enough with the delays and false promises on devolution Mr President – we await your clear deadline for the national Rail Devolution Strategy and for the handing over of passenger rail in Cape Town. The City is ready to work with national government to fast-track devolution to the benefit of commuters, and our offer of a joint working committee stands,” said Hill-Lewis.

He reiterated that the City of Cape Town’s rail feasibility study had shown that, with efficient trains, lower-income families could save R932-million a year. Further, 51 000 jobs could be sustained and at least R1-billion could be added to the local economy every year.

Cabinet passed the White Paper on National Rail Policy in May 2022, which committed to devolving rail to capable metros and producing a Rail Devolution Strategy in 2023.

ILLEGAL FIREARMS

The mayor has also called on Ramaphosa to allow the devolution of more policing powers to deal with illegal firearms, which Hill-Lewis said was fuelling gang, gun and drug crimes.

He pointed out that guns had moved from the hands of police into the hands of gangsters, citing guns recently stolen from the Mitchells Plain police station.

“These are the same guns used to terrorise communities and run the drug trade, killing innocent children caught in gang crossfire. How many more families must mourn the loss of loved ones before decisive action is taken to disrupt the gun and drug trade? The City calls for strong action to deal with the corrupt elements in [the South African Police Service (Saps)] who are conspiring with gangs, and for the urgent devolution of more policing powers to municipal law enforcement to help Saps fight crime,” said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

He laid out that in the last two financial years, 447 illegal firearms were confiscated and 35% more firearm-related arrests were made in the 2022/23 financial year, compared with the previous year.

However, he claimed that many of the confiscated guns ended up in the hands of gangsters again owing to corruption in the Saps.

“The President has the power to announce the conferring of additional peace officer powers for municipal officers, who can be an immediate force multiplier for Saps in the fight against crime,” said Hill-Lewis.

Edited by David Shepherd
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