Remarks by Minister of Police, EN Mthethwa, at the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) breakfast meeting, Investec offices, Sandton
24 Nov 2009
Programme Director, Ms Sonja Sebotsa
National African Federation Chamber of Commerce President, Ms Buhle Mthethwa
Confederation of Black Business Organisation and Business Unity South Africa Vice President, Mr Mthunzi Mdwaba
Confederation of Black Business Organisation representatives present
Distinguished business leaders present
Ladies and gentlemen
We are humbled and honoured by this invitation to come and share some of our approaches on the fight against crime. For us, this is an opportunity to impart you with our crime fighting approaches as government, while at the same time be open to learning from you on how we can all defeat this scourge of crime. We adopted this open engagement approach because we value your contribution in the betterment and creation of a safer South Africa. We also move from a premise that for us to succeed, it is imperative to broaden the engagement across all sectors, in accordance with government's approach that “Together We Can Do More”.
The people of South Africa have committed themselves to the realisation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. Enormous efforts have gone towards the achievement of this strategic goal. Apartheid colonialism ordered the ownership and control of wealth in such a manner that black communities were deliberately excluded and neglected. The economy, particularly the ownership thereof, remains one of the most un-transformed areas of our society. To address the imperatives of reconstruction and development, government and the black business community must form a strong and durable partnership.
The realisation of a prosperous society is closely connected with the achievement of a safe and secure environment. In order to enhance its capacity to contribute to this process, we believe that black business needs to strengthen and consolidate its organisations. Ways and means should be sought to ensure the involvement and participation of businesses that operate even in the remotest corners of our land. This will help black business to speak with one voice and act in unity.
Programme director, we understand that today’s gathering is not about two parallel groups on the different sides of the fence, pointing fingers at each other. We understand that as government and business, we all have a duty to work together in the fight against crime. We join you today because we understand that BEE is not affirmative action, although employment equity forms part of it. Nor does it aim to take wealth from white people and give it to blacks. It is essentially a growth strategy, targeting the South African economy’s weakest point; inequality.
As government we understand that no economy can grow by excluding any part of its people, and an economy that is not growing cannot integrate all of its citizens in a meaningful way. As this strategy stresses a BEE process that is associated with growth, development and enterprise development, and not merely the redistribution of existing wealth. We also note that crime has the potential to destroy our goals of achieving such targets, by derailing business growth, compromising safety of our citizens and creating anxiety in society. That is why we expect from you, as a collective and with common vision, to work with government in particular the police, in defeating this scourge.
Government is in control of the crime situation in our country. Our sector based approach in engagement provides us an opportunity to not only share some of our practices but also to derive valuable insights from different stakeholders. It is through such engagements that we can be able to allay some of the misunderstandings around our proposed approach against crime. We also acknowledge that crime levels in the country remain high. This therefore demands of us to develop an effective response that will categorically communicate the message that crime does not pay. Part of the response in this regard is the strengthening of our intelligence capacity. This is an ongoing task which is informed by an appreciation that intelligence acts as a nerve centre of any policing system. Accordingly, we are going to ensure that intelligence forms an integral part of all aspects of policing. In this regard, we are in the process of increasing both the police intelligence personnel as well as the associated operational expenditures.
Furthermore, the Second Hand Goods Act has been promulgated. The attendant regulations have been published for public comment. This act will help us to reduce the market and marketability of stolen goods. We are intent on dealing a telling blow to this destructive activity. Consequently, we shall work to combine the current legislative measures with other campaigns, including communicating a strong message to communities not to buy stolen goods. We will need the ongoing support of business as we work on these initiatives.
Work is underway to increase the number of detectives, as well as enhancing related training. The review process has also revealed the need for better career building within the detective section, and also within the police force generally. However, the success of everything we do relies on strong partnerships, as these enable us to deploy a variety of diverse resources, skills and capacities. Some of these resources and capacities are not available within the police themselves.
There has been some within the society who have been critical of our stance and approach in dealing with crime. We need to reiterate this morning that our approach departs from a reality, not a perception that crime in our country is at an unacceptable level. The kind of violence experienced by business and society warrants a tougher stance to ensure the economic prosperity as set out in government's programme of action.
We cannot allow a hindrance such as crime to diminish our dreams and hopes for a better and safer future. We cannot allow a handful, heartless criminals to terrorise our society while we fold our arms and shake our heads in disbelief. We must and are, taking control. Due to the shifting nature of crime in South Africa, as government we believe it is important to constantly re-evaluate our approach to fight crime, especially violent and serious crimes. In our many engagements with business and civil society we constantly receive valuable insights, which have helped in reducing and dealing with some of these heinous crimes.
Ladies and gentlemen, an opportunity to engage with you as the Black Economic Empowerment business leaders provides various opportunities to us who are tasked with leading the fight against crime. Firstly, it is an opportunity to constructively engage and obtain input in terms of your contribution as social partners. We do so fully aware that your initiatives are crucial in ensuring that the country prospers economically and socially. However, we also engage you cognisant of the fact that your association is not a minority view that seeks to alienate other role players, but that it aims to redress a past which might not have been a pleasant one.
Secondly your experiences as both citizens and business leaders from different walks of our socio-economic societies enable you to better grasp and understand some of the key issues faced by police. A more targeted and systematic approach is needed to tackle the high levels of crime in South Africa, with the first step being to engage all stakeholders and discuss appropriate responses and approaches. What is required is not only that these crimes receive priority and focused attention, but also that we develop a clear programme to address such illegal activities.
As we reflect on the Anti-Crime conference held in Johannesburg last year, government together with various social and business partners committed ourselves to constant engagement in the review on crime fighting. We agreed to devise plans for the expansion of the many partnerships existing between the government and various sectors of society to prevent and combat crime. Such partnerships are encouraged by the country's national crime prevention strategy, which requires broader societal responsibility and a more proactive approach to crime prevention.
There is also a need to implement approaches which would in the immediate term have an impact on crime levels, which would also lead to communities having greater confidence in the police. In crafting this coordinated plan with the Force, we need to be frank about what is working and what requires serious attention and intervention. We need to examine key areas of policing and focus on a few selected areas that will significantly impact on crime.
In this regard, three key challenges needed to become a focus of any new or revised South African Police Service (SAPS) approach namely; coordination, communication and accountability. Any approach must speak to these three crucial areas and while there may be other aspects of policing that should be incorporated, if we can focus on improving these three fundamental elements of policing, criminals will without doubt be dealt a severe blow.
The significance of reshaping the criminal justice system in order to meet the challenges posed by both organised and general crime is important. Substantial work has already gone into this process and resources allocated to ensuring its success with particular focus on integrating the different government databases.
We are further grateful to learn that the business sector has been pro-active in leading the crusade against crime by setting up initiatives to combat automated teller machine (ATM) crime, cheque fraud and crime in business. Based on these initiatives, it is evident that the business sector's involvement in supporting Government in the fight against crime remains invaluable.
One of the elements that leads to anxiety in society is the impact crime has on business. We cannot allow this to become a hindrance between business and societies they serve. We said at the time and still emphasise that this is a call to action for government, business, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and our communities.
In assessing the increase in aggravated robberies there are three areas which account for the increase in aggravated robberies. These areas are business robberies, house robberies and hijackings. Of the three areas mentioned, the highest increase was recorded in the area of business robberies. During this fiscal year the number of reported business cases increased by 41.5 percent compared to the previous year.
Through our engagement with various business sectors, a number of key areas have been identified that could assist us in dealing with this form of crime. The first relates to the type of businesses being targeted. It has become clear that while there have been slight increases in robberies targeting formal organised business, the biggest increase has been in the small business sector. In fact this small business sector accounts for almost two thirds of all business robberies.
It is important to recognise that the police need to do more to assist and protect these small businesses. However we are also aware that certain factors make these businesses particularly vulnerable to such robberies. Issues like the availability of cash (often linked to the difficulty these businesses face when it comes to banking) and the unavailability of resources to implement crime prevention measures contributes to making these businesses vulnerable.
The success of government’s approach to the fight against crime is dependent on establishing strong partnerships with communities. This is a call to business, specifically the banking sector to utilise all the resources available to you, to partner with government in creating an enabling safe business environment.
A crucial activity in this alignment process is greater information sharing. We are confident that as we move forward with this partnership which focuses on a government directed and led strategy supported by business, we will be able to assist in making South Africa a safer place to do business.
I thank you.
Issued by: South African Police Service
24 November 2009
Source: South African Police Service (http://www.saps.gov.za/)
Issued by: South African Police Service
24 Nov 2009
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