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