Remarks by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP at the Opening of the Masemola Police Station,
29 Nov 2011Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Joe Phaahla;
Limpopo MEC for Safety and Security, Mr George Phadagi;
Deputy National Commissioner of SAPS, Lieutenant General Lebeya;
Her Excellency Kgoshigadi Masemola;
Limpopo SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General TS Mpembe;
Mayor of Makhudu Thamaga Municipality, Mr. Matlala;
Executive Mayor of Sekhukhune District Municipality, Mr Magabe;
All SAPS Lieutenant Generals and Senior Officers present;
Provincial CPF Chairperson, Mr Mafune;
Representatives from Business, Youth and Civic Organisations present;
Community of Masemola and surrounding areas;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
We are pleased to join you today and our mission as government today is simple: to strengthen relations between police and community of Masemola. The construction of this police station on our part is an affirmation that as we heard your concerns, we have now responded.
From the onset, we need to emphasise that our presence is not only to reinforce a message that only law-abiding community members of Masemola should partner with police, but to also warn any criminals that their time is up.
The Masemola community must ensure that those that represent them on various civic structures, including the community policing forums, are equal partners with police in establishing the program of action in addressing the needs and to monitor the implementation thereof. We urge you, to be organised in structures and to work with government in our efforts to apprehend these criminals.
We need to advocate that society must not take the law into their hands. Your task is to report these thugs to the police. Police must then take over and do the right thing: make life very difficult for these scoundrels. Once they arrest them, they should just apprehend them very tight and not let go; such that the criminals must wish to get to the police van as quickly as possible.
In taking the fight to the criminals the communities of Masemola in partnership with police, have a duty to reclaim our streets. We require no permission from criminals to be able to walk tall in our streets, without fear of attack or harassment.
We must ensure the effectiveness of community policing forums (CPFs) because this is the only way we can enhance and maintain a partnership between the community and the Service and promoting co-operation between the police and the community in fulfilling the needs of the community regarding policing. We already know that some of the stations that are actively involved in community involvement campaigns, including Lebowakgomo, Polokwane, Mankweng, Seshego, Thohoyandou, Senwabarwana, Nebo, Matlala, Siloam, Tshilwavhusiku, and Tshaulu.
In South Africa, the adoption of community policing as an approach did not emerge out of a need for an alternative policing strategy. It was adopted out of a necessity to transform the policing force from an authoritarian institution to one that delivers service and also resonates within the community.
The opening of this police station coincides with the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. This is a United Nations-endorsed campaign that takes place annually from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). The 16 Days campaign generates awareness of the impact of violence on women, children and society as a whole.
Government has over the past 16 years put in place a number of Acts, policies and regulations that underscore its support for victims of crime. Policies such as the Victims Empowerment Policy (VEP) and Children’s Act place the victim of crime at the centre of the process to resolve the harm done. At this centres, the victim is guaranteed access to justice, fair treatment, dignity and privacy, safety within the justice system (witness protection/restraining orders/closed-door proceedings) and improve government assistance and services.
As the Ministry of Police we announced last year, the reintroduction of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Units. The FCS are now helping improve the ability of the SAPS to offer specialised investigations to women and children victims of crime. During this year’s campaign we urge all in society, particularly our police officers, to move beyond raising nationwide awareness on the problem of women and child abuse – but to practically demonstrate their commitment through actions.
The success of the campaign requires new partnerships; and the strengthening of existing partnerships in terms of planning and implementation. Partners need to work together on a comprehensive campaign that deals with the scourge of violence in our homes, schools and in our community. Police must therefore have no mercy on scoundrels who abuse women and children, not only for the duration of the campaign, but throughout.
The disjuncture between a high level of awareness and persistent abuse is cause for concern, and an indication that more needs to be done to cultivate a culture of taking action against abuse amongst relevant authorities, communities, civil society and other stakeholders.
The Masemola police station must represent new hope to such victims. After all this is not a police station that belongs to the Minister of Police or the management of police. It is a property of the people of Masemola. It is in your hands. The success or failure of this structure is dependent upon all law-abiding citizens of this community.
To the management of the police in Limpopo, our message as the leadership of police is simple: deliver. Serve these communities with respect, respond to their calls on time and ensure that you become a pain to the criminals.
Eradication of women and child abuse is central to the fight against crime. To address this, we require deliberate programmes of education and other measures to transform gender and family relations. We are also beginning to improve the close coordination between police, justice and correctional services to ensure that in the end, the perpetrators suffer and not law-abiding citizens.
When it comes to crime-specific concerns, we know that many of the criminals who terrorise you are known to this community. There is also a lot of frustration among you about the ability of these criminals who continue to harass and attack residents; and the subsequent impression nothing is being done by the authorities. The first step in ensuring the arrest of these criminals is for members of society to report the heartless criminals to police.
Equally, police have a duty and responsibility to act speedily to investigate and apprehend these criminals. The kind of expedition we are talking about means responding to calls timeously, treating our society with respect at police stations and criminals will have no room anywhere to run. The days of police of taking hours to respond to victims of crime must end. The days of police not having sufficient vehicles must end now.
We also want to appeal and urge families to break the silence when it comes to women and children abuse. We must all end this negative trend that when a child is abused by an acquaintance or a relative, that the matter is hidden and dealt with as a “family secret.” There is nothing secret about abuse. We cannot have abusers continuing with their evil acts and not being reported to the police.
We need to ensure that our laws favour citizens and deprive and deal a blow to criminals. While the rights of citizens need to be protected as entrenched in our Constitution victims of domestic violence must be able to receive support, assistance and relief. As you may also be aware, government has now passed the Second Hand Goods Act which criminalises the buyer and the seller of stolen goods. We therefore call upon all law-abiding citizens to desist from buying stolen goods.
During this festive season we want to see more vigorous police operations and visibility at every corner of Masemola and public-frequented areas. Festive season must be a period wherein as police officers we double our efforts in ensuring the safety of our citizens that is why as the Minister, I will also not be taking leave during this period.
We must reclaim our streets from criminals. We must improve our service delivery. This improvement must begin here. It must begin in the schools of Masemola in the streets, in the hospitals, in shopping complexes, in sports complexes, in areas of worship, in our homes and all public places. This is our mission.
As the residents, keep an eye on the performance of the police officers here. By so saying we do not imply that you must destructively criticize them, where they are lacking in service delivery, please feel free to bring this to the Office of the Minister. You can do this directly with me. Equally, in areas where they are performing well, we would expect you to give them a pat on the back and do tell these successes.
As police leadership, we have been consistent in our expectation from our police officers. We expect nothing but excellence from them. We must ensure that we are able to recruit the right kind of people and then to train and develop these people into the kind of police officer we want to see and that our country deserves. This approach to transformation must talk to the type of police service we want to create.
To the criminals who have been terrorising the Masemola community: the party is over now. I have instructed the police to ensure that they harden their approach in their fight against criminals because we do not negotiate with criminals, the only language we can engage them in, is through arrest and punishment. But arresting criminals is not enough; we now want more convictions and prosecutions.
The Masemola police station must become the face of our policing effort as we seek to improve and ensure the safety of all law-abiding citizens. The treatment we give to people who visit police stations in search of some help leaves lasting impressions not only about the particular station, but about the SAPS as a whole.
Therefore, the police station we are handing over today must be a model of excellence. We also need to emphasise that this is not a SAPS police station but a valuable resource that we place under the hands of the people of Masemola. Its success and failure in dealing a blow to crime in Masemola will be dependent in your hands.
Together, We Can Do More To Defeat Crime in Masemola.
I thank you
Issued by: South African Police Service
29 Nov 2011
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