Cele happy cash heists fall 36%, but no progress in hos­tel killings

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - DON MAKATILE don.makatile@inl.co.za Heist: South Africa’s Cash In Tran­sit Epi­demic Un­cov­ered

PO­LICE Min­is­ter Bheki Cele was up­beat when he “pro­vided feed­back on the Na­tional Sta­bil­i­sa­tion In­ter­ven­tions to deal with crime” in Pre­to­ria on Tues­day, but you’d be for­given for think­ing the only crimes of con­cern were cash-in-tran­sit (CIT) heists.

“To­day, I am be­fore you much more con­fi­dent about the work the po­lice is (sic) do­ing on cash-in-tran­sit heists than I was on June 4 this year, that since then, over 230 cash-in-tran­sit rob­bers are off our streets,” he gloated.

Ac­cord­ing to Cele, CIT rob­beries spiked dur­ing April and May. He said at the press brief­ing that from April 1 to November 4, 118 cash-in- tran­sit rob­beries were recorded across the nine provinces, “com­pared to the same pe­riod last year, of 184 cases recorded in 2017, reg­is­ter­ing a re­duc­tion of 36%”.

While it is com­mend­able that the po­lice fought fire with fire to quell CIT rob­beries, maybe they should do the same with other pri­or­ity crimes, es­pe­cially in KwaZulu/Natal, such as the killings fields that is Gle­be­lands Hos­tel in uM­lazi, Dur­ban.

Mur­der con­tin­ues to be the or­der of the day at the hos­tel and ob­servers say “the num­ber of ar­rests of hit­men linked to the Gle­be­lands Hos­tel con­tract killing syn­di­cate is climb­ing”.

Vanessa Burger, an in­de­pen­dent com­mu­nity ac­tivist for hu­man rights and so­cial jus­tice who works a lot at the hos­tel, says: “The SAPS fo­cus on CIT heists is clearly part of its pub­lic re­la­tions drive to win back pub­lic con­fi­dence.

“While it is good that it is re­ceiv­ing at­ten­tion, CIT re­ceives dis­pro­por­tion­ate me­dia and pub­lic at­ten­tion mainly among the up­per classes. It feeds into white fright for some rea­son. It is also a crime that should be rel­a­tively straight­for­ward to po­lice.

“Pre­vent­ing and pros­e­cut­ing the slaugh­ter of hun­dreds of poor black hos­tel dwellers and ad­dress­ing the com­plex so­cio-eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions that have fa­cil­i­tated the car­nage is not so easy, glamorous or likely to quickly im­press the up­per ech­e­lons of so­ci­ety.

“I also don’t, how­ever, be­lieve the SAPS can be held solely re­spon­si­ble for it ei­ther. It’s a so­cio-po­lit­i­cal con­se­quence of where our coun­try has ended up.”

But An­neliese Burgess, who wrote the book has a dif­fer­ent,

op­ti­mistic, view.

“Ar­rests make for good head­lines. They cer­tainly help with the morale of crime-fight­ers who are now start­ing to feel that they are be­ing em­pow­ered by po­lice lead­er­ship, and they are hav­ing an im­pact on the rate of CIT’s in what was the epi­cen­tre of the epi­demic – Gaut­eng, Lim­popo and Mpumalanga.

“Ar­rests mean noth­ing in the long term, how­ever, if those who are ar­rested can­not be suc­cess­fully pros­e­cuted – and this is where the prob­lem lies. With­out the nec­es­sary ev­i­dence to pros­e­cute, we will sim­ply see th­ese guys trickle back on to the street.”

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