Address by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP on the occasion of Meeting of SADC Chiefs of Police Sub-Committee of the Inter-State, Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC), St Georges Hotel, Pretoria, South Africa
24 May 2012
Secretary General of INTERPOL, Mr Ronald Noble;
SARPCCO Chairperson and Acting National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, Lieutenant General NS Mkhwanazi;
SADC Director of the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security, Mr Tanki Mothae;
Director of NCB and Regional Police Service, INTERPOL IPSG-LYON, Ms Elizabeth Kuteesa;
SARPCCO Coordinator/RB Harare Head, Mr C Simfukwe;
Police Chiefs present;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Good morning. Sanibonani. Bonsoir mesdameset messieurs. Boa noite senhoras senhores. Habair ya jioni.
It is our pleasure and honour to formally welcome all delegates to our beautiful country. It is an honour to host the SADC Chiefs of Police Sub-Committee of the Inter-state, Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC) meeting.
We are led to believe that we are gathered here, because we share a common vision: to make our region and our globe, peaceful. As elected representatives tasked with this assignment, ours is a daunting task. We are cognisant that if we work together, we shall succeed together. Our basis on security is premised on the understanding that promoting mutual friendship amongst the people of the region and nations of the world must take priority.
In his brilliant book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century the award-winning New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes.
With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt.
I am drawing the comparative narration with Friedman’s view on this ‘flat world’ because much as we have experienced technological advances, sadly, criminals have equally diversified and improved their tactics. What this calls for is a multipronged approach and in fact, governments need to be ahead, whether technologically or operationally in terms of fighting this scourge.
As the government of South Africa, in our cause of dealing with the scourge of crime, it became apparent to us that police alone cannot win the fight against crime. Criminals do not live in isolation from communities. Therefore we needed to deepen our partnership with communities. That is why we took a decision of fighting crime and fighting it toughly and smartly.
However we further recognise that we need to strengthen cooperation with international law enforcement agencies. We therefore recognise information sharing and through cooperation, we can and shall continue to crumble and deal a blow to these crime syndicates.
We further recognise and clearly understand that the task of keeping our respective countries and our region safe cannot be achieved if we operate in silos. That is why a multi-pronged approach in the fight against crime, underpinned by the involvement of the communities we serve, is the only and most effective solution to eradicating crime. We still hold a firm and realistic view that this region’s safety will be achieved through a collective, coordinated approach and engagement.
For all member states represented at this august gathering, we all have a huge responsibility of ensuring that the decisions and deliberations that we adopt, indeed contribute to world peace and stability.
What we have before us is a protracted warfare that has been declared on innocent civilians. We dare not fail or offer any excuses. We have a duty and a task to take decisions that must improve economic emancipation, growth and stability of our region and our planet.
On the occasion of our Southern African Region Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) meeting two years ago, held in Johannesburg, we emphasised that one of the threats to any country in today’s era is around terrorist threats. Terrorism is one of the evils that plagued our world today, terrorists are prepared to kill and maim innocent people. We vowed at the time, that we shall not allow this to happen in our home soil and that we were over-prepared for any eventuality.
At the time, we made a clarion call to all SARPCCO member countries to collaborate with South Africa as we intensified our war against terrorism. We vowed that any type of deviant behaviour be it criminality or terrorism would be dealt with swiftly and with no mercy. This morning, we want to reaffirm our position on this stance and that we remain even more determined to an undertaking we made at the time.
We equally recognise that as member states, we all remain committed to dealing with the issue around transnational crime. Progress is noted daily in which through cooperation we are beginning to see arrests of crime syndicates. We however believe that more still needs to be done in this area. The agreements that have been signed must now translate into actions, become even more vigorous and fully implemented.
We hope that as part of this gathering, as delegates you will have an acute concentration on the critical issue of intensifying our operations to address cross border co-operation. This co-operation so far at an operational level is really good and will also be useful that lessons learnt be replicated across other member states.
We note with satisfaction that the process of incorporating SARPCCO into SADC structures is at an advanced stage. We remain confident that the finalisation of the incorporation will further enhance police cooperation between SARPCCO and SADC structures. We equally note various successes of the SARPCCO cross border operations achieved through joint operations. To this end, we reiterate the need to focus more on multilateral intelligence-driven operations.
There are several lessons we have learnt in dealing with the scourge of crime in South Africa. To a large measure, crime in our country has a uniquely random and violent character. A greater proportion of murders, rapes and other crimes take place among acquaintances, particularly in poor communities where living conditions challenges a decent family and social life.
In addition cross border criminal networks are involved in a variety of crimes including vehicle hijacking, drug and human trafficking. In dealing with the illicit regional trade in vehicles we are further enhancing our co-operation with other regional police agencies to strengthen the implementation of regional protocols and agreements.
All these factors reconfirm the need for a multipronged approach in the fight against crime, combining aspects of crime prevention, crime combating, and the improvement of socio-economic conditions.
As modern and progressive world, we need to intensify our globalised approach in the fight against crime and criminality in general. It cannot be that crime syndicates remain sophisticated than law enforcement authorities the world over. We need to as a matter of urgency, begin to enhance our ability to monitor and analyse information related to specific areas of activity and criminal organisations.
South Africa further acknowledges the pivotal role that SADC member states play in showing support to major events and matters of regional cooperation being undertaken by South Africa. We have seen this during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and more recently 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Durban during November 2011; which was deemed a huge success.
Southern Africa’s wealth of resources is no hidden matter and has been exploited at a large scale through illicit mining and trafficking in commodities. These illegal miners are placing their lives as well as that of our emergency services at risk but also robbing our region of its wealth running into billions of rands. We hope this august gathering will look at this crucial issue to address this challenge.
In fact, when it comes to best practices and case studies, we have a lot to learn from, whether from the 2010 FIFA World Cup or any other international event which we have hosted. We need to venture into such best practices and begin to initiate, prepare and participate in programs to improve sharing of information.
One of the crucial issues facing the world today is the whole issue of drug trade, with its associated problems it continues to grow in most parts of the world. South Africa is no exception and as we began to formulate practical strategies to deal with this challenge, it became increasingly clear that much as we would arrest users, we needed to actually focus on the kingpins.
What we need to begin to do is, as police and society, is to channel our energies around the destruction of these global drug syndicates. While we focus on the sniffers, the ‘big bosses’ are smiling all the way, without any remorse or care of how much damage they are causing.
We are cognisant of the fact that government will not, by itself, address the crime problem. We therefore expect and continue to urge communities in our country irrespective of race, religion or sex, to form part of efforts to address crime.
Drug usage and abuse also has a negative effect on the family structure. That is why as part of the global partnership with member states present here, a government-led coordinated national drug campaign must be intensified to fight substance abuse.
Such an august gathering creates an opportunity, so important in our troubled universe, for all of us to experience the reality that we belong to one human family, regardless of race, colour, gender, age, political and religious belief, and country or continent of origin.
As Friedman pointed out in his book: The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, the world is getting more sophisticated and technologically advanced. To us as law enforcement practitioners, this ‘flat world’ presents challenges around ensuring human safety. Global abuse and accessibility of drugs has become increasingly complex, as trafficking routes have become shorter, more diverse and more easily traversed.
As I conclude, allow me to close with the profound words of former President, Dr Nelson Mandela, when he said: “a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. After climbing a great hill, one finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
As diverse governments yet enjoined by a common vision of a peaceful and safe globe, let us remember these words that after scoring victories against heartless criminals, we should not bask in the glory. The problems are known. Their affects are felt. We therefore need to collectively take decisions and urgent steps to determine our destinies.
That we should double our efforts to work even harder because the citizens expect no less. We must undertake these challenging yet doable tasks conscious of our responsibility as battalions of the global army for progressive social change.
I thank you.
Issued by: South African Police Service
24 May 2012
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