Remarks by Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP at an Institute for Security Studies Conference on “Understanding the Perspective of Crime” Sandton Sun, Sandton, Gauteng
1 Dec 2011
Dr. Jakkie Cilliers,
Executive Director: Institute for Security Studies;
Dr. Chandre Gould, Crime and Justice Programme at the Institute for Security Studies;
All SAPS senior management present;
Various distinguished local and international Academics, Researchers and Scholars present;
Representatives from all Civic Organisations,
Academic Institutions and Government Departments present;
Members of the media;
Ladies and gentlemen;
A year ago, in September to be precise, we addressed the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) conference held at Muldersdrift. As the police leadership, we are once again honoured to have been invited to address this year’s conference. At the time, our approach was not to come as experts who knew better than you rather as equal partners in the fight against crime. That has not changed. Furthermore we made a clarion call to all researchers and academia to work with us as we deal with this scourge of crime; and ISS was one of the institutions that heeded this call. We applaud and value your contribution.
Indeed we value such partnerships as they enhance our strategy. Our strategy, by the way, speaks fundamentally to the goal of building a society where all law-abiding citizens will enjoy dignified and safe lives. However the acts of criminality including proliferation of firearms, rapes of women and children, house robberies, car hijackings, cyber crimes, commercial crimes and other forms of crimes; stand in direct opposite of an achievement of this goal.We gather one year later, having released the 2010/11 financial year crime statistics and we are encouraged with progress made. The statistics indicate that the strategies we put in place two years ago are now beginning to yield anticipated results.
Our engagement with you this morning, presents an opportunity to reflect on some of the key undertakings and achievements, through this partnership. If we reflect on amongst others, the Summit against Police Killings which we convened, we recognise the important contribution of researchers into our 10-Point Plan. The input looked at amongst others some of the fundamental research methodologies which can guide and protect our officers against heartless criminals. We also want to take this opportunity as we had publicly done, once again commend the Reward A Cop, Report A Cop initiative which was launched by ISS in September this year. This good initiative is important in encouraging South Africans to recognise and support good police officers whilst isolating rotten apples who misuse their positions. To this end, we not only supported the initiative but pledged to work closely with ISS in ensuring that the processes set up succeed.
In fact, we would be eager to learn of how many such good officers have been identified and recognised to date? After all, the primary focus on our transformation agenda in the SAPS is about human resource development, from recruitment to retirement as well as recognising and rewarding excellence. Over and above what we have said, the questions we would pose are: what more can you do in terms of qualitative research? Given our current crime-fighting strategies, which areas would still require systematic and coordinated research? We particularly want to further challenge you, as both local and international researchers, to answer the fundamental questions: why is crime in South Africa still violent in nature? Do we understand the true nature of the criminal that we are dealing with in South Africa? Because in essence crime in our country is committed by repeat offenders and we would expect this conference to begin to assist us as we delve into the character of this criminal.
The conference takes places at an opportune period as we have begun to review the White Paper on Safety and Security, South African Police Act 1995 and the Private Security Industry Regulation Act, 2001. This initiative is aimed at bringing these legislations in line with the policing challenges we face today. Going forward the White Paper will become the measuring yard-stick which will govern our approach in the fight against crime. Perhaps it is equally important to re-emphasize that as we embark on this process, we have no intentions of totally changing the legislation. Instead we shall improve on areas where there had been some challenges. In areas that are yielding results, we shall look at consolidating such best practices. This approach is by the way, a cornerstone of our policing approach that is a firm and uncompromising stance of fighting crime and all its evils. We will fight it toughly, smartly and within the confines of the law under a community-policing philosophy.
Over the last year we have adopted to pieces of legislation that deal with strengthening of the Independent Complaints Directorate and the Civilian Secretariat of Police. Both these legislations serve a very important mandate of ensuring that police, as they carry out their duties, do not end up abusing the powers vested in them. For us to win this war, we must and have prioritised training of our members. We are now revising how and what is involved in training. This new way of thinking must speak to both the content and the manner in which we train. Training, like any other science, is always under construction and none of us can say: ‘I have arrived, I am an expert.’
We have made considerable progress in the turnaround strategy of our forensics, which for many years was plagued by huge backlogs. We have also begun to put in place systems to ensure that we avoid a repetition of any backlogs in the future. We achieved this, by and large, as a result of collaboration with local and international researchers. Equally we continue to up-skill and capacitate our detective services. This includes not only increasing the number of detectives but also the quality of those we recruit. We want also to focus all our energies in ensuring that we do not only arrest those who are on the wrong side of the law, but mainly secure convictions. In order to do that, we need to re-enforce our detective and investigative arms.
Equally important it is the principle of command and control within SAPS; and this is one area where ISS has been emphasizing, and we fully concur with you. Part of command and control must address how we are managing our members, particularly at police station level. The need for greater co-ordination also requires our focus. All our different components of the police need to be working together and supporting each other. Management is not only about issuing instructions but also managing the how these instructions are implemented. No station commander should manage a police station from his or her home. They must be on the ground effectively commanding their forces. We are emphasizing the need for management to be held accountable and to reassert discipline within the police.
Parallel to this process, there is now a concerted effort of addressing criminality within the police. Much as we are tough in dealing with criminality we are doing the same in arresting and convicting police officers who are involved in crime. However the increase in police being busted for criminality and the exposure thereof should be understood in two contexts. Firstly, hat government will not tolerate corruption. Secondly that going forward, we must begin to put processes and systems which proactively prevent commission of crime and corruption. Irrespective of how creative our plans are in dealing with crime, if they are not coordinated at a regional and international level, success is bound to be minimal. After all crime is a scourge that does not respect borders, with crime syndicates that have made the entire globe the theatre of their operations.
Yet we are also conscious of the fact that a fundamental condition for our success in the fight against crime does not merely depend on sound domestic policies and programmes, or our determination to pursue them. As a result of this understanding, we have realised a need for a co-ordinated effort to address this scourge. Today there can be no doubt about the determination of the overwhelming majority of the citizens of this country to take concerted action to help us liquidate crime. This is the kind of perspective we expect and envisage in dealing with crime in South Africa.
It should therefore not be a government-only responsibility to tackle crime. We believe your experiences as researchers enable you to better grasp and understand some of the key issues faced by police.
I thank you.
Issued by: South African Police Service
1 Dec 2011
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