Police secure 362 life sentences of criminals from January – November 2011
19 Dec 2011
Specialised officers continue to excel against all odds in securing harsher sentences.
Mpomphomeni, KwaZulu-Natal – 19 December 2011. Police officers around the country have secured 362 convictions of life sentences with more than 20 000 years of imprisonment on heartless criminals who committed heinous crimes such as rape and abuse against women, children and the elderly from January to November this year.
Of this total, police in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) managed to successfully secure 108 life sentences and all these successes must be applauded. This was announced by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa during an interaction with the community of Mpomphomeni, outside Pietermaritzburg today.
Minister Mthethwa commenced a programme of interacting with the SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Units throughout the country, to date having interacted with North West, Gauteng, Western Cape, Mpumalanga and he will be in Free State tomorrow. These interactions are aimed at helping improve the ability of the SAPS to offer specialised investigations to women and children victims of crime.
Today’s engagement was also attended by the KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mr Willis Mchunu, the Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, senior police officials, representatives from CPFs, NGOs, youth structures, business and the community of Mpophomeni.
Breakdown of the different provinces on securing life sentences are as follows: KZN 108, Gauteng 33, Mpumalanga 17, North West 31, Eastern Cape 28, Northern Cape 8, Western Cape 49, Free State 44 and Limpopo 44.
“We are undertaking this process to help understand the challenges that this crucial unit is facing on the daily basis as they execute their duties. As the police leadership, we announced the reintroduction of the FCS Units last year in Parliament. Since the introduction of these units, we have noted some encouragement as some provinces are progressively capacitated to function effectively whereas in others there are still challenges,” he stated.
“During our meeting in Mpomphomeni this morning, we are encouraged to learn about the 108 life sentences in this province. It is important to highlight that these convictions were achieved despite various challenges facing the members of the FCS.
Instead of allowing the challenging environment to dampen their commitment, these dedicated members rose against all odds and spearheaded our fight against women and children abusers. We applaud their efforts and believe we shall continue to make progress in dealing with this sensitive crime,” added the Minister.
Currently SAPS KZN has 25 FCS units with a total number of 172 officers who have been trained in detective training, and 20 Forensic Social Workers will be appointed in due course. One of the challenges facing them is the skills shortage where some members leave the Unit in pursuit of better opportunities in the private sector. There is also a challenge with accommodation with 18 FCS units located at stations and clusters, whereas 7 FCS are accommodated at private premises.
“The emphasis here is not on numerals but we need to emphasize the difficult circumstances under which these successes were achieved. This is not your average crime to deal with, it requires utmost sensitivity, dedication and specialised training. Amongst the challenges raised by the members, include lack of accommodation to operate effectively, challenges around the ICT infrastructure and equipment and skills shortage, they still soldiered on.”
“As I interacted with various FCS commanders throughout the past days, I want to assure you that the challenges you raised will be addressed immediately.
To this end I have instructed the Acting National Police Commissioner and his management to prioritise this matter. As we go forward we want to ensure that the FCS are allocated appropriate resources and capacity and they must be based at police stations, because that is where victims of crime require assistance from. Our police stations must, in true sense of the word, become the beacon of hope to all victims.”
Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi stated that he has instructed the police to prioritise crimes against women and children, not solely focused on the 16 Days of Activism against Women and Children campaign, but 365 days. “Our presence today at Mpomphomeni is to ensure that we partner with communities to fight crimes which are sexual in nature.
Let us all tackle this inexcusable behaviour by some men, who are actually cowards, who abuse women and young girls. As a law abiding community you must deliver these rapists and molesters to the police so that we can secure harsher sentences. Already, since the announcement of re-introduction of the FCS units by the Minister, we have established over 176 units in the country.”
Some of the best practices shared by the province include: all DNA reports were properly consolidated and submitted to Forensic Science Laboratories and this has helped to speed up the turnaround time for results. Secondly, multi-sectoral meetings are held with various stakeholders were cases are discussed, challenges addressed and best practices shared.
These interactions include but not limited to, local and provincial Thuthuzela Comfort Centre, focused on human trafficking, pornography, prostitution, including meetings with various organisations such as Childline and the NPA.
Cell: 082 045 4024
Issued by: South African Police Service
19 Dec 2011
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