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
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.