Remarks by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, at the National Launch of the Second-Hand Goods Act, Thohoyandou Community Hall, Thohoyandou, Limpopo.
21 May 2012
Deputy Minister of Police, Ms MM Sotyu;
Limpopo MEC for Safety, Security and Liaison, Ms FF Radzilani;
Acting National Commissioner of Police, Lt General N. Mkhwanazi;
All SAPS Lieutenant Generals, Senior Officers and Staff present;
Acting Mayor of Vhembe Municipality, Mr L Manyuha;
Representatives from the Community Policing Forums;
Representatives from Business, Unions and Civic Organisations present;
Community of Thohoyandou and surrounding areas;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
As elected government servants, we are humbled to meet and engage with you today, so that together we can decisively deal a blow to the scourge of crime that may be facing the community of Thohoyandou.
The national launch of the Second-Hand Goods Act, 2009 (Act No 6 of 2009), which came into effect on 1 May 2012, here in Thohoyandou is not coincidental.Rather it is an expression of our commitment to ensure that we reach out to all communities, be they rural or cities, we shall communicate this message that crime does not pay.
In essence, the Act stipulates that any person who buys a stolen good is as guilty as the person who stole the goods; and harsher sentences will apply to both the buyer and the thief.Our message to the community of Thohoyandou and all communities across the country is to refrain from buying stolen goods.
The Act further empowers police to arrest the buyer and the thief, so there is no excuse when it comes to criminality.We therefore want to say to the police that this Act compliments your efforts in fighting criminals; therefore want to say that the days of police of taking hours to respond to victims of crime in Thohoyandou must end.
We do not want this Act to become a mere legislation on a piece of paper, but it must become a pain to criminals.It must be a nuisance to those who buy stolen goods. However it must become a relief to victims of crime because they would know that their perpetrators will now face many years in jail.
The review of the Act was informed by a lot of challenges, dynamics and the growth of the industry which became vulnerable and a major property crime generator.The Act also makes specific provisions for the accreditation aspect of the industry dealers, associations and equally the compliance monitoring as well. The effective and efficient implementation of the Act and communication thereof will bring about change and contribute positively in the fight against crime.
Metal theft in South Africa is rampant, with an estimated of R5 billion per annum lost due to the theft.The stolen metal ranges from copper cables, piping, bolts to manhole covers. The theft continuously disrupts and degrades services, such as rail transport system, the power supply provided by Eskom and the telecommunication services by Telkom SA amongst others.
It is evident that when it comes to crime in Thohoyandou many of the criminals who terrorise the community are known to the community.There is also a lot of frustration amongst some of the residents about the criminals who continue to harass residents; and the subsequent impression that nothing is being done by the police.The first step in ensuring the arrest of these criminals is for members of society to report the heartless criminals to police.
The support of strategic stakeholders within the business fraternity such as Business against Crime South Africa is commendable and further enhances our viewpoint that through such partnerships, the crime scourge will be eradicated.The support for the Act has also been noted from the communities, as anchored to the community police forums across the country, as this will ensure continuous whistle blowing and ultimately effective law enforcement.
The drafters of the Act could not have foreseen the major developments in technology since 1956, especially with regard to electronic equipment.The principles on which the Act is founded were reviewed in order to address industry concerns, facilitate policing and contribute towards government policy.
The training of designated Second-Hand Goods police officers is currently underway and through this training, we will not only be able to arrest those who break the law, but equally secure harsher convictions in court.
The Act further requires all dealers in second-hand goods to report to the police all suspicious transactions where the seller attempts to provide false particulars or where the goods are suspected to be stolen or tampered with.Second-hand goods dealers and pawnbrokers will therefore not only have to take reasonable steps to ensure that they do not buy stolen goods or goods that have been tampered with, but also be careful from whom they buy goods.If an unscrupulous dealer is found guilty, a court may impose a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
All these legislative enforcements form part of our new approach in fighting crime.We urge communities across the country not to become arm-chair critics of police officers but to actively partner with the police in fighting crime.We hope that in the coming months when we interact with this community or make unannounced service delivery monitoring visits, we look forward to receiving positive progress on how crime in the area has been reduced.
We want to further utilise this occasion to reaffirm government’s commitment in eradicating violence against women, children and the elderly.We understand that crimes such as rape and sexual offences affect different communities, irrespective of their socio-economic status and background.
That is why prior to this official launch, the entire police leadership and management met with the Limpopo police management responsible for Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units.We undertook and commenced with such interactions across the country, starting in December last year; with today’s visit be our ninth provincial interaction.
Our primary focus has been to understand some of the challenges facing these units, whether from a capacity or financial support perspectives.We cannot begin to resolve crime in South Africa, if we do not have a concerted concentration on these crimes.
To us this must become the number one priority. In fact, the Second-Hand Goods Act, by and large will further strengthen our efforts in fighting sexual offences because in most instances, people who get robbed in their homes or at streets, are often victims of rape, assault and murder.As we will be finalising our findings from these national interactions, we should be able to map a way forward and a clear plan in terms of sustaining the momentum.
The SAPS management has accordingly heeded this call and that is why to date, the FCS have been reintroduced in all 176 SAPS clusters, across all 9 provinces.There is currently 2155 detectives placed at these units and have been issued with 1276 vehicles.Previously, the FCS units consisted of only 1864 detectives.
An additional amount of R49.5 million was provided to all provinces to capacitate the FCS units with resources.From April 2011 to January 2012, the FCS units have achieved over 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73% for crimes against women above 18 years old and 70,04% for crimes against children under 18 years old.
Whilst during our interactions this morning, I was further encouraged that police in Limpopo have secured 19 life sentences between January and March this year.My encouragement was however, somehow let down by the fact that such good news have not been widely and publicly communicated to the nation.
Effective communication must be supported by good coordination.When one looks at crime trends, for example, relating to serial rapists they indicate that these scoundrels would travel from province to province as they commit these heinous crimes.What this calls for, is better coordination amongst our police.
During our Budget Vote address in Parliament two weeks ago, we announced to the public that 2012, is the year of the detectives.We emphasise this theme because going forward we want to see more and harsher convictions of these heartless criminals.Now police can only secure such if they are properly trained.
We have however taken various steps in addressing this scourge.A total of 17314 out of 21 100 detectives are trained in detective related courses.A further 2161 detectives will be trained on the basic detective course during the 2012/2013 financial year.A total of 479 trained detectives that had been transferred to other components and divisions within SAPS in the past have been placed back in the detective services environment.
The launch of the Second-Hand Goods Act, here in Thohoyandou, serves as a further call to the people of Thohoyandou and across the country, to join forces with the police as part of our resolve and conviction to defeat the scourge of crime.The Act criminalises the buyer and the seller of stolen goods.We therefore call upon all law-abiding citizens to desist from buying stolen goods.
To the criminals who have been terrorising the Thohoyandou community, your happy days are over, beginning here and now. I have instructed the police to ensure that they harden their approach in their fight against criminals who have terrorising innocent and law-abiding citizens.
A new commitment, vigour and determination will inform our broader approach in fighting crime, smartly and toughly this year.Let the declaration of 2012 as the year of the detectives begin to bear real impact, starting from Thohoyandou and spreading to every space and piece of our land.
Together, We Can Do More To Fight Crime.
I thank you.
Tel: 012 393 4341 or 021 467 7007
Fax: 012 393 2833 or 021 461 7033
Cell: 082 045 4024
Issued by: South African Police Service
21 May 2012
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