Deputy Minister Fikile Mbalula and Police Commissioner Bheki Cele to the members of the National Press Club, Sheraton Hotel, Pretoria
15 Sep 2009
Firstly we would like to thank Mr Yusuf Abramjee, chairperson of the National Press Club as well as your committee for affording us this important opportunity to address members of the Club. We take this opportunity to emphasise and acknowledge the important role members of the media play in helping government, civil society and business in the fight against crime in our country. The government has, as one of its key priorities the fight against crime and corruption.
The government has pledged that over the next five years the criminal justice system (CJS) would be overhauled and crime levels reduced. As government, we have a responsibility to lead the fight against crime. We do so cognisant of the fact that alone, we cannot attain success. We believe a multi-stakeholder approach is the most effective approach in tackling crime head-on. We believe that together, we can do more.
The department has focused considerable energy on efforts to establish a transformed criminal justice system. It is our belief that while there is still significant work to be done to establish a transformed, integrated, properly resourced and well managed criminal justice system, the work that has been done over two years serves to provide a strong base upon which we can build. Our history is characterised among others, by deliberate neglect of rural areas. The birth of democracy saw a shift in approach. Government has now placed the issue of rural development high on the agenda. This needs also to find concrete expression in our policing strategy.
Once again the department has begun the process of locating this as a key focal area. However, going forward we need to ensure that our programmes speak adequately to this important issue. Furthermore, we have observed that some crime syndicates operate in rural areas, harassing and undermining the safety of poor communities. Violence against women and children is still prevalent in our society. This phenomenon militates against our national effort to create a caring and humane society, underpinned by values of human solidarity, justice, peace and development.
We will, as we must, strengthen measures aimed at fighting the spectre of violence against women and children. The closure of these units has lead to significant debate regarding the need for certain types of crimes to be addressed by people with specialised knowledge and experience. Some of this knowledge and experience can only be acquired through direct engagements in such areas. The ministry is currently considering the reintroduction of some these specialised units, in particular the Child Protection unit and Sexual Offences units.
Serious violent organised crime remains a crucial focus of department. We are still concerned about it impact, however considerable strides have been made in setting up effective structures such as the directorate for Priority Crime Investigation. With the establishment of the directorate for Priority Crime Investigation we hope to enhance our capacity to deal not only with violent organised crime but also the illicit drug trade and commercial crime. Yesterday, in Durban, police raided a R500 million drug bust operated by a transactional syndicate involving South Africa and other countries. Therefore we are already beginning to see some good work done by the directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.
We have recognised the important role that intelligence plays in policing. To address this we are in the process of revitalising and improving our intelligence capacity within the police. The ministry has identified the need to enhance and restructure the secretariat of police as a priority. A new secretary of police has been appointed and began work on the 1 September 2009. The new structure for the secretariat is in the process of being finalised and will provide the capacity for greater civilian and ministerial oversight of the police.
Furthermore, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) plays an important role in ensuring the quality of service delivered by South African Police Service (SAPS). A new head of the Independent Complaints Directorate has been appointed. To this end, the ministry is also in the process of finalising legislation aimed at improving the capacity of this directorate to deliver on its mandate.
The continued incidents of cash in transit heists remain a matter of vital concern to the ministry. While the financial losses may have declined the threat posed to the public, where heavily armed criminals conduct heists in public spaces requires intervention. The ministry is currently looking at a number of different approaches to address this problem, including working together with organizations such as South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), Business Against Crime (BAC) and Cash Risk Management (CRIM) forum.
To strengthen the fight against crime we are going to table some legislative interventions. This includes amendments to section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act. We must hasten to say that trigger happy members of the police must not think that this is a license to kill. It is a measure aimed specifically at serious violent crime and dangerous criminals.
We also need to move from a premise that portrays our police force as irresponsible, reckless and less committed. While I acknowledge that within our ranks, there may be those who joined the force for reasons either than that preserving the safety of our citizens: government has demonstrated and will continue to do so in rooting out corrupt police officers. Yesterday's shooting of six suspects at a foiled cash-in-transit at Kameeldrift just outside of Pretoria, was not a random and indiscriminate police shooting.
The police working with cash-in-transit companies receive warning that a vehicle would be attacked and responded to this incident. The perpetrators were heavily armed with automatic firearms. The police intervened after these suspects opened fire on the cash-in-transit vehicle and their actions not only secured their lives but also the lives of the security personnel accompanying the vehicle.
Government is cognisant of the fact that police and law enforcement officers must have the necessary powers to combat crime effectively. As government we will do everything in our power to ensure the police are equipped to handle criminals. Over the past months, we witnessed an alarming rate of mall robberies, especially around Gauteng. Again such acts of cowardice by senseless and faceless criminals, who prey on innocent customers at malls, will not be tolerated by government.
Through partnerships with business we are developing various approaches and as a result many of the criminals have been apprehended. The department has worked in partnership with other government departments, for the hosting of the successful FIFA Confederations Cup. All the required security measures were put in place to ensure effective safety during the hosting of this event. The tournament further assisted in highlighting areas of our security plans that need further refinement ahead of the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup.
This experience will enrich our understanding and plans as we prepare for 2010. In this instance, we are gratified in saying we would not have achieved some of these had it not been due to your (media) support in the form of awareness, whether it be via television, newspapers, online, etc. The success of government’s approach to the fight against crime is also heavily dependent on establishing partnerships with communities. The ministry is in the process of establishing a dedicated unit which will focus on deepening our interaction with communities, civil society, businesses and faith based organisations. One of our recent successes is through the ‘Operation Washa Tsotsi’ campaign.
Again we need to clarify that, while this operation continues to have an impact in helping us fight crime, there has been some misconception around its intended objectives. The approach is intended to tackle crime head-on. We know for a fact that criminals emanate and operate from our families and societies. It will therefore be naïve to deal with them without close consultation with members of our communities. In this instance, we cannot even begin to emphasise the importance of close partnerships. Some of the successes in apprehending the most dangerous criminals have been through tip-offs from members of our communities. These brave individuals who take these bold steps do so having confidence in our system. They report these crimes with a hope that, the next day, the criminal will be punished accordingly. They report these criminals full of hope; hope that they want to create a safe environment for themselves. Accordingly, police cannot fail them.
The justice system cannot fail them. Societies cannot fail them. As media, in your reporting, you cannot fail them. In recent months, through the media, we have noticed a very disturbing trend where certain criminals have been ‘idolised’ when they appear in courts. This cannot be allowed. We condemn such conduct with the severity it deserves.
We believe such behaviour is symbolic of lack of positive role-modelling within our communities. Our children, who grow up in the midst of these criminals, need to resent them with contempt as a result of their negative acts. It is through partnerships with these different institutions, civil society that we can truly transform this negative trend into a positive one. Yesterday, the Presidential hotline, which allows members of the public to lodge an enquiry or complaint directly in the President’s office became operational and we are informed that it received around 7 261 calls in its first three hours.
This is indicative to us as government that we cannot falter nor slow down in our service delivery mandate. This mandate includes the protection of our citizens against criminal elements. As a department, we will need to complement the President’s hotline vision by setting up systems which will deal with any complaints or calls related to police’ non-compliance, and ensure that these are effectively speedily and effectively addressed.
As government we remain unshaken in our commitment to securing a better life for all and, the fight against crime is an integral part of ensuring this better life. Some of the in-roads we have attained would not have been possible had it not been through partnership and contribution of various stakeholders, including media.
Together, we can still do more in ensuring safer and peaceful communities.
I thank you.
Issued by: South African Police Service
15 September 2009
Source: South African Police Service (http://www.saps.gov.za/)
Issued by: South African Police Service
15 Sep 2009
[ Top ]