Po­lice must be­come a refuge

It can­not be that we make it harder for vic­tims to run to us as the po­lice. Po­lit­i­cal killings and threats against politi­cians are se­ri­ous crimes writes

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE -

OUR SYS­TEM of gov­ern­ment is sup­ported by four dis­tinct ac­tors; the politi­cians, the in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary, the civil­ians and armed forces. These are sup­ported by spe­cial in­ter­est groups like the busi­ness sec­tor, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, the me­dia, academia and pres­sure groups.

It is not of­ten made pub­lic when the Depart­ment of Po­lice, the SAPS, ar­rest and as­sist in the suc­cess­ful prose­cu­tion of mem­bers of the ju­di­ciary caught in cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties. The po­lice con­duct var­i­ous sting op­er­a­tions aimed at quelling cor­rup­tion in­side the ju­di­ciary and other sec­tors be­sides the pub­lic fo­cus on politi­cians, a fo­cus we must en­cour­age and step up with­out tir­ing.

We of­ten do not get to prop­erly dis­cuss the is­sue of pub­lic cor­rup­tion due to the emo­tions in­volved – we must not lose sight of the civil­ians in gov­ern­ment, who our laws have given fi­nan­cial ac­count­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity, too. When we talk of pub­lic sec­tor cor­rup­tion but fail to re­alise that it is we, the civil­ians who, in the main, steal from the pub­lic we al­low for the rot to be­come deeply rooted.

In most of the cases of pub­lic cor­rup­tion it is civil ser­vants who are mem­bers of the pub­lic with vested author­ity to look af­ter the pub­lic funds who end up steal­ing and de­fraud­ing the state.

When crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity is not in sight or on the radar of the po­lice, civil so­ci­ety or the me­dia, it tends to thrive.

It is in­cum­bent on the gov­ern­ment and all ac­tors in­clud­ing the me­dia to fo­cus on the cor­rup­tion cases in­volv­ing civil ser­vants so that pres­sure is placed on them to ad­here to the pre­scripts of the Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act, which places fi­nan­cial man­age­ment ac­count­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity on civil ser­vants.

We must also, as the gov­ern­ment, state it very loudly that enough is enough with pub­lic cor­rup­tion. We must so­licit col­lab­o­ra­tion with all ac­tors but im­por­tantly with our com­mu­ni­ties, to deal with cor­rup­tion. We are the ones who see our civil ser­vant neigh­bour’s life­style chang­ing fast – we must re­port sus­pi­cions.

Crimes by the busi­ness sec­tor against the pub­lic are also vast and like the crim­i­nal­ity in the courts, they also do not get ap­pro­pri­ate pub­lic at­ten­tion.

This has em­bold­ened the busi­ness sec­tor enor­mously to con­tinue their of­ten-or­gan­ised crim­i­nal­ity. The idea that busi­ness would sim­ply pay a fine and not face a crim­i­nal court is a thing of the past. Some of these busi­nesses go as far as bud­get­ing for likely fines. It is time we pros­e­cuted them.

The pub­lic is not of­ten made aware that the busi­ness sec­tor di­rectly par­tic­i­pates in pub­lic cor­rup­tion – be it pub­lic ten­der rig­ging, bribery or other or­gan­ised crime in­clud­ing de­fraud­ing the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice.

Where there is a civil ser­vant or politi­cian in­volved in cor­rup­tion, you are bound to find a busi­nessper­son. This in­di­cates clearly that the busi­ness sec­tor has been a dan­ger­ous blind spot in the fight against pri­or­ity crimes and cor­rup­tion.

We rely on the in­de­pen­dent me­dia to high­light these is­sues and as­sist the pub­lic in fighting crime in an un­bi­ased man­ner with fo­cused at­ten­tion.

The crime trend anal­y­sis for 2011 un­til 2016 in­di­cates in­creases in com­mu­nity-based crimes. The cat­e­gories that are see­ing great in­crease are con­tact crimes, con­tact re­lated crimes and prop­erty re­lated crimes. Our mur­der rate in­creased to some 18 673 re­ported in­ci­dents. These are un­ac­cept­ably stun­ning num­bers.

The en­tire coun­try should be fo­cused on this more than any other thing we do. Our num­bers re­sem­ble those of war zones. Some coun­tries at war do not even come close to the num­ber of bru­tal mur­ders we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. We have no time to waste on these crim­i­nals who ter­rorise our liv­ing spa­ces.

Sex­ual of­fences, though with some de­crease in re­ported in­ci­dents, there is a scourge in the grue­some na­ture of pub­li­cised in­ci­dents which height­ens the per­cep­tions of an in­crease in in­ci­dents. One rape is one too many. As Min­is­ter of Po­lice I am aware that not all women re­port rape, not all chil­dren re­port rape – for this rea­son, from Au­gust 14 un­til 18 I am con­ven­ing role play­ers in the de­part­ments I over­see in­clud­ing civil so­ci­ety and other stake­hold­ers into an Ac­tion Ind­aba Against Gen­der-based Vi­o­lence to once and for all deal a heavy blow to sex­ual of­fences. We have spo­ken enough – enough is enough.

We need to re­move the bar­ri­ers on re­port­ing sex­ual of­fences, these bar­ri­ers in the main are lo­cated in the depart­ment I over­see, the SAPS. The SAPS is be­ing trans­formed into a refuge for women and other vul­ner­a­ble groups. It can­not be that we make it harder for vic­tims to run to us as the po­lice. We have di­rect re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as the po­lice, we can­not pass the buck.

The re­ported cases of in­sen­si­tiv­ity by our po­lice when deal­ing with fe­male vic­tims, vic­tims of hu­man traf­fick­ing, the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der, queer or ques­tion­ing, and in­ter­sex (LGBTQI) com­mu­nity is de­plorable and in­hu­mane. All vic­tims who re­port to our po­lice sta­tions must be treated as gen­uine vic­tims and cared for. Do­ing dif­fer­ently is mis­con­duct and a di­rect de­fi­ance of com­mand and con­trol.

Rob­bery with ag­gra­vated cir­cum­stances, com­mon rob­bery, car-jack­ing, rob­beries at homes are also hav­ing alarm­ing spikes. Due to rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion in Gaut­eng and Cape Town crimes are spik­ing at alarm­ing rates or re­main stub­born at cer­tain lev­els. Cape Town has a dis­pro­por­tional use of pri­vate se­cu­rity com­pa­nies many of which are em­bed­ded with crim­i­nals. Many of these com­pa­nies have be­come fronts for crim­i­nals and I have di­rected that the reg­u­la­tor, PSIRA, should up its ante on reg­u­la­tion and zeal.

I en­cour­age com­mu­ni­ties to es­tab­lish and take part in Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Fo­rums (CPF). The CPFs must not be used by com­mu­ni­ties as struc­tures where we con­duct our over­sight over po­lice work but they are set up to com­bine ef­forts, work to­gether and col­lab­o­rate in in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and polic­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Most of our po­lice are do­ing a good job. I en­cour­age all to em­u­late the good and re­gard their roles as ex­tremely im­por­tant for our na­tion to thrive.

Gaut­eng con­trib­utes up to 45% of the na­tional crime as such it must be our pri­or­ity. We can­not af­ford to have the en­gine of our econ­omy be­ing a hive of open crim­i­nal­ity. If we lose the fight in Gaut­eng, we would have handed over the en­tire coun­try to crim­i­nals.

Al­co­hol, drugs, guns and as an en­abler, cell­phones with un­reg­is­tered SIM cards, are all pri­mary and dom­i­nant in re­ported in­ci­dents and com­mis­sions of crime. There are too many guns on the streets, many of them are not le­gal. We will dou­ble our plans to get these guns into the fur­nace and ap­pre­hend the crim­i­nals who are turn­ing our streets into the wild west. Po­lit­i­cal killings and threats of life against politi­cians are se­ri­ous crimes. Tar­geted killings of SAPS mem­bers are also se­ri­ous crimes. These are a threat to our na­tional se­cu­rity and the sta­bil­ity of our democ­racy. The killings in KwaZulu-Natal are cat­e­gor­i­cally crim­i­nal in na­ture – they are about con­trol of pub­lic re­sources, we can­not shy away from the fact that politi­cians are dy­ing, there­fore these killings have po­lit­i­cal con­no­ta­tions to them. Where re­sources are a mo­ti­vat­ing for killings, busi­ness peo­ple are al­ways found to be co-con­spir­a­tors. There are those who are hir­ing and equip­ping as­sas­sins. This trend is be­ing at­tended to at the high­est level within the SAPS un­der my di­rect su­per­vi­sion.

We must work within our homes to man­age the abuse of al­co­hol and drugs. Liquor out­lets that turn a blind eye to their out­lets be­ing used as stag­ing and plan­ning grounds for crime will lose their li­cences, the law obliges all of us to re­port sus­pi­cion of crime or sus­pi­cion of planned crime. Il­le­gal or un­li­censed liquor out­lets will no longer be tol­er­ated. We are clos­ing them down and in­vite the pub­lic to re­port il­le­gal trad­ing to their po­lice sta­tions.

I also wish to dis­cour­age cit­i­zens from buy­ing il­le­gal SIM cards. Cell­phone ser­vice providers must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ir­reg­u­lar bulk reg­is­tra­tion of the SIM cards us­ing fake or sim­i­lar ad­dresses. There is no care from our ser­vice providers that this lapse is a se­cu­rity threat. There will im­me­di­ately be a harsher re­sponse to il­le­gal­ity on the part of these com­pa­nies as they con­trib­ute to aid and abet crime. As the pub­lic, we must re­port shop own­ers who sell us SIM cards out­side of the Rica sys­tem. These SIM cards are used in the com­mis­sion of crimes against us all.

Last week I un­veiled an in­te­grated multi-dis­ci­plinary tac­ti­cal se­cu­rity plan for OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port and in­tend to roll the plan out to all other prob­lem ar­eas in our points of en­try. We are tak­ing over the air­port from law­less­ness – we are tak­ing it over from its verge of be­com­ing easy for crim­i­nals – we will se­cure crit­i­cal na­tional in­fra­struc­ture.

We are at a stage where we must up­date our crime fighting strat­egy so that it will re­spond to the sit­u­a­tion we have and the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion en­su­ing.

We have no time to waste in guar­an­tee­ing our peo­ple the safety they are en­ti­tled to and to cre­ate a cor­rup­tion-free, vi­o­lence-free so­ci­ety. Fik­ile Mbalula is the Min­is­ter of Po­lice

PRI­OR­ITY: The po­lice spe­cial task force raided houses of sus­pected gang­sters in Blue Downs and Delft re­cently as the province launched the first Clus­ter Op­er­a­tional Com­mand Cen­tre. Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula has is­sued a warn­ing to crim­i­nals in the Western Cape.

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