Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, on the release of the annual national crime statistics yesterday, was scathing of the police’s 'lazy' efforts in tackling crime and harshly critical of police leadership and key police units. Although the statistics released for the April 2016 to March 2017 period show that crime has generally decreased, there was a spike in violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder, and the trio crimes of aggravated robbery, carjacking and robbery at residential and non-residential premises. The Minister called for an end to the police 'inertia' and for more innovative ways of combating crime. The Minister acknowledged that the many changes in police commissioners in recent years had contributed to inefficiencies that negatively impacted on the police’s ability to combat crime. The Minister also had a strong warning for criminal gangs. 'I am coming for you hard – enough is enough.’
SAPS highlighted that crime went down by 1.8% in 2016/17 and this was due to the work of police members on the ground. However, violent crimes such as robbery with aggravating circumstances and hijackings were becoming more sophisticated. Such crimes increased by 4.6%. Murder also rose by 1.8%, with on average 52 South Africans murdered every day, of which 13% were women and children. Attempted murder rose by 0.4% to about 50 a day (18 205) while robberies with aggravating circumstances rose by 6.4%. Contact crimes, in the broad category, decreased by 2.4%, and sexual offences by 4.3%. The biggest spike was in drug-related crimes, which jumped by 12.9%, prompting special interventions in areas like the Cape Flats to deal with the situation. These are crimes commonly committed with guns. The crime statistics indicate cash-in-transit heists fell consistently between 2008 (394) and 2013 (145) but are on an upward trend once again (152) after a low of 119 in 2014-15.
Members asked questions and commented about: the review of the SAPS employment regulations was welcomed as critically important; leadership was essential and there should be permanent appointments for the National Commissioner and Crime Intelligence vacancies; it is not enough to claim to have a decline in crime but rather people should feel safe; the quality of leadership at station level was important; what was the strategy in place to deal with lack of leadership at station level; the utilisation of resources was important especially technology like body cameras and CCTV cameras; use of outdated models will not work in the fight against crime; the possibility of bringing in the Defence Force should be welcomed by the Committee to deal fiercely with criminal elements so when was this likely to be implemented; all role players needed to identify the way forward in dealing with crime; SAPS cannot deal with crime on its own without dealing with socio-economic conditions so there should be a collective responsibility including the Department of Social Development.
Some Members expressed concern about what seemed to be lack of monitoring of severity of kidnapping and demand for ransom mainly by foreigners. What was the role of the crime registrar? Was there capacity within the crime registrar to verify the accuracy of the crime statistics? It was unclear if the crime statistics had been verified and approved via South African Statistical Quality Assessment Framework (SASQAF). A total of 52 murders a day was totally shocking for any functioning democracy. The rural safety plan was not talking to farm murders. Stock theft was soaring throughout the country and people continued to feel unsafe. SAPS claimed that sexual offences were on the decline while civil society maintained that there is serious underreporting of sexual offences in the country. What was being done about Trio Crimes? Farm murders were a concern and it would be important to hear if there are statistics on this. It is critically important for the country to have competent station commanders who release local crime statistics on a monthly basis as this is an international practice. There is a need to neutralize crime through policy visibility. Was there a clear link between use of drugs and alcohol and the spike in murder rate? SAPS needed to employ a strategy that would not only monitor illegal shebeens but close them done as well these were sources of crime in many townships in the country.
Minister’s opening remarks
Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, welcomed everyone in the meeting and mentioned that the purpose of the meeting today was to present to you the Annual Crime Statistics for the 2016/2017 period. The National Development Plan’s Outcome 3 states that; “In 2030, all people living in South Africa feel safe, have no fear of crime, are properly served by the police and courts, and know corruption no longer eats away at their livelihoods.” The annual crime statistics enable government, this Parliament, civil society and our people to monitor key targets, in particular the reduction of reported serious crimes, as set out in the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The statistics can be utilised as early warning to strengthen crime prevention operations and strategies of various departments beyond just the South African Police Service.
It must be indicated that crime involves high emotions, rightly so. We must not see these statistics just as pure numbers. Behind the numbers are real feelings, real lives, real hurt, real harm, real losses, deaths, feelings of un-safety – these statistics represent the memory of that gruesome rape or murder, the fearful home invasion and loss of property. These numbers have consistently said no community can claim they live in safety and feel safe in South Africa. The reality is that our people are losing their children to heinous crimes, drug gang infighting and turf wars. Our people face no go areas due to criminality and violence. In Vuwani, adults commit crimes of arson and harassment against little children intending to get an education. It is true and it must be acknowledged that most our people live under siege from crime.
There is a need to ask whether we have accepted living side by side with violent criminals who literally emote terror across our nation, be it Amavodo gang in the rural areas of Lusikisiki where this past Saturday SAPS opened a new state of the art police station or the Hard Livings Gangs across the Cape Flats. The question should be whether we have accepted living side by side with violent criminals in our big cities where carjackings and home invasions are a common phenomenon. Crime is delivering terror and grave harm to our people and the economy. There is awareness that there will never be a victory lap until such time that our people feel safe and are indeed safe. People should be safe from crime, safe from fear of crime, in particular violent crime. All this makes crime statistics a very important tool in the fight against crime. SAPS simply cannot fight against an unknown enemy. SAPS gets to understand the patterns, the occurrences and types of crimes through these statistics so that we may plan accordingly. The integrity of the crime statistics is very important and the public must trust that there is no numbers game or “clever accounting” taking place.
SAPS has entered into a formal and structured arrangement with Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) through a memorandum of understanding in order to integrate SAPS national crime statistics with the official statistics.
This arrangement entails:
• The use of common statistical standards
• Adherence to quality criteria determined by the Statistician General
• A commitment to building institutional statistical capacity to meet the data requirements of government
• Adherence to the UN principles that guide the production of official statistics.
SAPS National Crime Statistics measure twenty-one serious crimes. Seventeen of these crimes are reported by the community and the other four are detected as a result of police-initiated operations. Put differently, the seventeen crime categories are supposed to decrease, whilst the other four (illegal possession of firearms and ammunition; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; possession of and dealing in drugs; and sexual offences) detected by the police are supposed to increase as a result of police action or detection. The 17 community-reported serious crimes have continually decreased during the last half of the 2007/08-2016/17 decade.
However, contact crime figures which generally reflected a fairly consistent decrease during the first half of this decade have increased over the preceding three years. In 2016/17 a reversal is observed and a decrease was recorded. Despite this decrease, some of the individual categories such as murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances have over the past four years tended to reflect an upward trend. Among the contact crimes, robbery is still of particular concern. Robbery is not only considered a more policeable crime than the other contact crimes, but increasingly considered as an important contributor to the other contact crimes. Allow me to make an example, a simple robbery becomes serious when a weapon is used in the process or when assault occurs or a murder or rape occurs during the robbery. So robbery must be treated as serious focus area.
Minister Mbalula mentioned some of the sub-categories of robbery with aggravating circumstances, namely the trio crimes (carjacking, house robbery and business robbery), including hijackings, which are to a greater extent organised in nature. Analysis conducted by national and provincial offices revealed that most of particularly the trio crimes are organised crimes in nature and need a different approach to crime combating. SAPS had emphasised the need for intelligence led crime prevention and fighting plan. Division of Crime Intelligence should play a vital and prominent role in our approach. Research has further shown that the majority of contact crimes are social in nature and occur among people who know one another. It is for this reason extremely difficult, if not impossible in some cases, for the SAPS alone to reduce or prevent the levels of such crimes.
This calls for structured partnerships with other stakeholders such as the Department of Social Development, non-governmental organisations, Community Policing Forums, Community Safety Forums and everyone in our society – each citizen. Findings during preceding financial years and the current financial year’s analysis reveal that the role of alcohol, drugs and firearms in the commission of crime is predominant and requires multi-sectorial special attention. Research findings not only indicate that a notable number of victims and perpetrators were under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the commission of particularly the social contact crimes, but indicate the role of dependency on such substances as motivation to commit other crime – and property-related crime in particular. SAPS want to emphasise the need to involve the society at large in campaigns to create awareness about the dangers of substance abuse and alcohol abuse. In the financial year under review, 2016/2017, approximately 2.1 million serious crime counts were recorded, of which 1 738 980 were community-reported serious crimes. The latter decreased by 1.8% compared to the 2015/2016 financial year.
This decrease was driven mainly by reductions in all the broad crime categories, namely contact-related crime (3.3%), contact crime (2.4%), other serious crime (2.0%) and property-related crime (0.5%). The contact crime experienced a reversal from the 1.0% increase recorded during the preceding financial year. Contact crime decreased by 2.4% in 2016/2017. The decrease followed upon increases during the preceding two financial years. The decrease during 2016/2017 resulted in the figure for the 17 community-reported crimes decreasing to a level lower than three years previously when the figures started to increase.
Contact-related crime decreased by 3.3% in 2016/2017, following upon a decrease of 0.8% during the preceding financial year and an increase of 1.9% recorded during 2014/20015.
Property-related crime experienced a decrease of 0.5% in 2016/2017. This follows upon decreases of 1.8% and 0.8% respectively during the two preceding financial years.
Other serious crimes decreased by 2.0% in 2016/2017, following upon decreases of 4.1% in 2015/2016 and 2.2% during 2014/2015.
The crimes that are considered as indicators of the effectiveness of police activities, these are crimes detected as a result of police action, experienced a reversal from a decrease of 0.3% in the preceding financial year to an increase of 9.6%. This increase is too small and are indicative of the lazy efforts by the police to detect such crime in order to make South Africa a safer place to live in. Police in this instance are letting our people down and I am here to stop it. Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape must have increased police action. When there is an increase in these sets of numbers – police action policing, it indicates more police work having taken place, we continue to do less here. We need to stop inertia and innovate.
Minister Mbalula said that cash in transit crimes going up – on the other hand the financial institutions are not investing properly in the high assets in transit. The armoured vans that are seen on our roads do not compare with serious armed vehicles in Europe in particular. SABRIX and banks must invest more in proper equipment and inform SAPS of high value cargo well in time for planning. Internal hiring in these companies must accompany deeper security vetting and continual lie-detector tests and other methods. Banks must return the dye that assisted in slowing down the cash-in-transit crimes. Rendering the money useless is important. Banks stopped using the orange dye because of costs. This is not acceptable.
There are efforts to deal with the high levels of crime in the country continued to find further expression in several practical initiatives such as Operation Festive Season, Operation Paseka, Operation Fiela and Operation Coastal Dragon. Successes achieved in this way should not only serve to encourage members of the Service in the performance of their duties, but motivate members of the public to become positively involved in efforts to eradicate crime. The public must be positively involved” in efforts to eradicate crime. Honourable members, crime should be addressed by all of us as an issue of national interest and priority, we must not score political points over these issues and thus lose focus while criminals laugh at us as elected leaders of society.
The Minister stated that crime knows no race, no creed, no religion and certainly no social strata. Deputy Minister Mkongi is not here because he has lost his nephew, Andile, from a knife attack in Khayelitsha. There are Ministers in this Parliament who have buried their own children due to violent crime. We interact and meet many victims and their families. South Africa cannot continue this way. There is a need to ask whether we have accepted to live side by side with violent criminals. Is criminality a South African citizen itself? Our answer must be an emphatic and radical “NO!” – We must deal with crime in a radical and energetic way – our language must be clear and understood. It is crucial important to remind everyone of what our former president Nelson Mandela taught us, he said; “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
The Minister explained that he was sending a message to these violent criminals that “bazowuchama bawuphuze”, and this was seriously meant in every word. It is important to communicate in the language that these violent men who rape and murder would understand. This may be isiZulu A – let me translate it into English, “violent criminals will receive a proportional response to what they dish out”. When women marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 said; “Wathinta Abafazi Wathint Imbokodo You Will Be Crushed” – they were communicating in a language that the violent criminal apartheid government would understand. Today, the Minister is sending a message to criminal gangs; “Nilibambe Lingashoni – I am coming for you hard, enough is enough”. Honourable members, this is not just talk. SAPS was strengthening its capacity and appointing strategic thinkers in police management and stabilizing our Crime Intelligence Division to enable intelligence led crime prevention and policing. SAPS has re-launched specialized units to focus on drugs, rape, violent threats and violent criminals. There are plans in place to enhance technological capacity to match the evolved digital technology arena. Importantly, he highlighted that he had directed police to focus on crime modus operandi to curb the multiplier effect of crime.
SAPS was working with our partner departments to make sure that Correctional Service does not let criminals who are in our pending system out. SAPS was working with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to make sure our dockets are speedily court ready. This is to ensure that there is cooperation in order to vigorously oppose bail applications on rape and other high category crimes. We will focus on prisons to make sure this repeat offender phenomenon ends. The Department of Social Development and Human Settlement are working with us to deliver safety to the vulnerable. Our approach is multipronged and extends to making sure there is adequate victim support and reduction of barriers to reporting crime – Our Six Point Plan is being actioned in this regard.
The Minister aimed to deliver a police service which is professional, courteous, understands constitutional democracy policing. The Minister has directed that our approach should be that of de-escalation policing. Upon getting these statistics, the President has demanded that we stop lamenting about the contributing factors to crime and he has instructed that we return back to him immediately with a plan and proposals on how we intend dealing with alcohol abuse, drug abuse and fire-arms. The Minister of Health informed me that we are the 10th most drunkard nation in the world. With a population of 56 million and growing, this is a serious worry and indeed we locate alcohol in the overwhelming number of crimes and violent crimes. Indeed, crimes like carjacking today end up being cross border crimes where our people’s cars are being freely driven in Mozambique to Lesotho and beyond.
The Minister welcomed a 1.8% drop in crime, but wanted to make it clear that he did not feel it and our people do not feel it and they are correct. We have a drop in sexual violence, but we have more and more pictures of our women going missing. People must feel the drop in crime where they live. SAPS have an acute lack of woke leadership from station level up. The customer service on our people is appalling. Batho Pele was just an event inside SAPS; it is not something management truly bothers with. Police Stations and 10111 are the places at which service delivery begins. Police must treat our people courteously and with sensitivity. SAPS agreed with our people that much needed to be done to improve our front office services. The #MyPoliceStation Campaign came about as a result of people being treated badly in police stations. Police treat our people as nuisance
Crime is general down but when you zoom into the numbers we have a big problem where violent crime is going up and there is no time to hide this. Our police are working under tremendous situations but are not led properly by management. Management must have strategic capacity or else we have accepted living with criminals as a part of life.
Crime Statistics: briefing by South African Police Service (SAPS)
Major General Norman Sekhukhune, SAPS Head: Crime and Research Statistics, said that police recorded crime statistics are derived from an administrative data collection process. All crimes are recorded as and when they are brought to the attention, or detected by police, irrespective of when the crimes were committed. A docket is opened for every crime brought to the attention of the police and subsequently electronically transcribed on the Case Administrative System-CAS. CAS numbers are allocated chronologically according to the month-year on which the crime was reported. Each reported crime incident is allocated a crime code, which are then aggregated into Daily Summary of Serious Crime (DSSC) Code. DSSC codes are used for classification and statistical reporting purposes. The focus of this report is the raw number of counts per serious crime category, they include 17 Community reported crimes and 4 Crimes dependent on police action for detection. All attempted crimes are included in the relevant categories. Those cases closed off as “Unfounded” are excluded for crime statistics reporting purposes. The annual Crime Statistics report provides percentage changes for each crime category.
Maj General Sekhukhune noted that the quality assurance process is enhanced through SASQAF’s South African National Statistics System (SANSS) framework of engagement. The latter has six components namely Problem Identification, Diagnostic Assessment, Development of Problem Solutions, Implementation of Solutions, SASQAF Self-Assessment and SASQAF Independent Assessment. The current crime statistics have complied fully with the first four components of the framework and have reached the self-assessment stage. The SASQAF self-assessment process was undertaken during the current financial year. The self-assessment is currently being discussed by SANSS members and feedback will be provided in due course.
Violent crimes such as robbery with aggravating circumstances and hijackings were becoming more sophisticated. Such crimes increased by 4.6%. Murder rose by 1.8%, with on average 52 South Africans murdered every day, of which 13% were women and children. Attempted murder rose by 0.4% to about 50 per day (18 205) while robberies with aggravating circumstances rose by 6.4%. These are crimes commonly committed with guns. Contact crimes, in the broad category, decreased by 2.4%, and sexual offences by 4.3%. The biggest spike was in drug-related crimes, which jumped by 12.9%, prompting special interventions in areas like the Cape Flats to deal with the situation.
Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Khombinkosi Jula, stated that the crime statistics indicate cash-in-transit heists fell consistently between 2008 (394) and 2013 (145) but are on an upward trend once again (152) after a low of 119 in 2014-15. It was indeed true that the police should shoulder some blame for the rise in the number of cash-in-transit heists, yet banks and security companies did not invest enough in state-of-the-art vehicles and equipment to fight the crime. A total of 39 828 rapes were reported down 4% from the previous year. In the Western Cape 7.7% of murders are a result of robbery and this was 15% in Gauteng. In Western Cape 19.3% of murders are a result of gang activity. In Eastern Cape, the major cause of murder is when suspect and victim drink together and an argument ensues.
The Chairperson offered condolences to the Deputy Minister whose nephew was killed in Khayelitsha this past weekend. There should be condolences sent to the two police officers in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Limpopo. The Committee welcomed the review of the SAPS employment regulations as this was critically important to deal with the abuse of delegated authority. Leadership was essential as there should be permanent appointments in the National Commissioner and Crime Intelligence vacancies. It is true that it is not enough to claim to have decline in crime but rather people should feel safe. The quality of leadership at station levels was important. What was the strategy in place to deal with lack of leadership at station level? There seemed to be inconsistencies in the quality of leadership with one station performing well while the next station two blocks away is performing poorly. The utilisation of resources was important especially technology like body cameras and CCTV cameras. The use of outdated models will not work in the fight against crime.
Mr A Shaik-Emam (NFP) said the Committee should commend the recorded successes but take into consideration the many challenges. The Committee had conducted oversight in KZN and it must be commended that SAPS had been able to deal with crime in the area. The possibility of bringing in the Defence Force should be welcomed by the Committee in order to deal fiercely with criminal elements. When was this likely to be implemented? There is usually a lot of criticism when the security is beefed up and this is something that SAPS would need to take into consideration. There is a need for all role players to identify the way forward in dealing with crime. SAPS cannot deal with crime on their own without dealing with socio-economic conditions. There should be a collective responsibility to deal with crime including the involvement of Department of Social Development. There seemed to be lack of monitoring of the severity of the crime of kidnapping and demand for ransom mainly by foreigners.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) welcomed successes but noted that there are still areas for improvement in dealing with crime. It was concerning to see that murder rate was still extremely high and this is something that SAPS would need to deal with. It would be important to hear about how the data was being used by SAPS. What was the role of the crime registrar? Was there any capacity in place within the crime registrar to verify the accuracy of the crime statistics? It was unclear if the crime statistics had been verified and approved through South African Statistical Quality Assessment Framework (SASQAF).
Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked for the explanation of the statement by the Minister that “the police are not led properly”. Who was responsible for the drafting of the dissemination policy as referred to by the Minister? What was the action plan to deal with the increasing crime rate in Mpumalanga?
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) welcomed the talk by the Minister but expressed concern about the militaristic approach that was being taken by the Minister in dealing with crime including the use of assault. Why were the crime statistics tabled after the tabling of the annual report by SAPS? A total of 52 murders a day was totally shocking for any functioning democracy. The rural safety plan was not talking to farm murders. Stock theft was soaring throughout the country and people continued to feel unsafe. SAPS claimed that sexual offences were in decline while civil society maintained that there is serious underreporting of sexual offences in the country. There are no support structures for victims of sexual offences and this was discouraging a lot of victims from reporting sexual violence.
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) said that the Minister was saying a lot of things in public but the reality is that crime in the country is serious and there is no time for his "rhetorics" approach. It is crucially important to bring back discipline and leadership within SAPS although the reality is that most SAPS members are sitting with criminal records. What was being done in cleaning up SAPS? The overall picture presented on crime statistics was bleak as there are increases in carjacking and residential and non-residential. The reality is that these are the serious crimes that most South Africans are terrified of. What was being done about Trio Crimes? Farm murders was a concern and it would be important to hear if there are any statistics on this. The crime statistics management complied only with 4/6 categories of compliance with credible crime statistics. What was the impact of the failure to comply with the other requirements for credibility of statistics?
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) appreciated that a lot of work had been done by SAPS in fighting crime. SAPS members should be commended for risking their lives in fighting crime and it was evident that the police members were doing a thankless job. The Committee should support the call for the stabilisation of leadership within SAPS as it was important to have a stable leadership that is primarily focused on fighting crime rather than having infighting within management. The actual visible policing was important in reducing the scourge of crime in the country. What was being done about visible policing? There should be a support for the partnership between different sectors including civil society.
Mr Ramatklane commented that in terms of management structure, it would be important to hear if there is any possibility of bringing back experienced police members to fight crime on the ground rather than having them sitting in air-conditioned offices. There is a need for experience when dealing with criminal elements as is happening in Marikana in the Western Cape. It would be interesting to hear about the strategy in place to deal with Trio Crimes. There is a need to neutralize crime through police visibility. Was there a clear link between the use of drugs and alcohol and the spike in the murder rate? SAPS would need to employ a strategy that would deal not only with monitoring of illegal shebeens but closing them down as these were the source of crime in many townships in around the country.
Mr J Maake (ANC) noted the increase in stock theft across all provinces and wondered if there was any specific reason for the increase of this type of crime.
Prof C Msimang (IFP) commended SAPS for the notable successes which should be bringing back faith in SAPS. There are voices of the people who are calling for the death sentence to be reviewed and it would be interesting to hear the opinion of SAPS on this. Was it perhaps possible to have a referendum on the death sentence? It was worrisome to note that there is a spike in Trio Crime even in rural areas as rural areas are often regarded as quiet places. Was there a plan in place to deal with crime in rural areas and restore peace? There is a notable increase in carjacking and the market for these vehicles is across the country border. What is the strategy to deal with this problem?
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) appreciated that the crime statistics for this year were able to include the breakdown in sexual offences as this was one of the recommendations of the Committee. The National Intelligence Agency seemed to lack capacity to deal with crime in the country as it had been politically captured. There is no need to have a crime summit but rather formulate strong partnerships with various stakeholders like civil society and communities in the fight against crime. It was concerning to note that stock theft had increased in all provinces and the increase in carjacking. The only conclusion that could be reached by Members is that South Africans are not feeling safe and this should be lamented.
Mr Mbhele said that the Committee conducted oversight in Nyanga this past Sunday and it was clear that police officers are not adequately equipped to deal with crime. It is critically important for the country to have competent station commanders who are able to release local crime statistics on a monthly basis which is an international practice. It seemed that SAPS is implying that there are only four crime categories that required police visibility. Was this the approach that was to be used by SAPS? Commercial crime had increased and it would be important to hear if this increase was related to the illicit flow of tobacco.
Minister Mbalula responded that the quality of leadership at cluster level was essential including to those who are tasked with policing. The quality of leadership should be subjected to constant monitoring and evaluation. Monitoring and evaluation means putting the right people in to match specific mandates and job descriptions. We need to ensure that stations are performing optimally and putting people with the right skills in the right positions. There was an interaction with crime intelligence on how to deal with crime especially the use of technology to deal with crime. Technology is important especially because of the lack of enough personnel within SAPS. People will need to be capacitated on the use of new technology as it was useless to use technology just for the sake of it. The SAPS employment regulations are important and once these regulations are amended, they should not be abused. They would be aligned to the SAPS Act. There is no time to be wasted in dealing with criminal elements. Bringing in the Defence Force was still being processed by the President and this is specifically to respond to the alarming crime situation. The solution is not static but rather temporary to deal with the spike in crime. SAPS should avoid the situation where it would be accused of bringing in the army to maim and kill innocent people in the townships. The Defence Force is to be deployed in specific areas and not everywhere. It is mainly for the reinforcement of policing through Operation Fiela to clean the streets of illegal firearms, drugs and other crimes. The crime statistics will be specifically used as guidance for places where the army will need to be deployed. The President was still applying his mind to this, including his advisors, and there will be a detailed briefing on the deployment of the army and the approach to be applied.
The Minister said it was important to formulate partnership between civil society, community members and SAPS. Police members needed refresher courses and to collaborate in working with community patrollers who are getting stipends every month. Kidnapping is a new phenomena in the country and it was concerning. There are high profile cases of kidnapping and foreigners are usually involved in this type of crime. The matter of kidnapping was being looked into and dealt with by SAPS. The police need to be led properly as stable leadership is needed to achieve consistent results. One needs to avoid people in acting positions although there is the awareness that some people are in acting positions because of ongoing litigation, including the crime intelligence positions.
The Minister said that it was incorrect to claim that the people arrested on their way to Eastern Cape were treated badly and unfairly as reported in the media. The reality is that some of the people arrested on their way to Eastern Cape were involved in criminal activities and they were arrested while others were released. The people that were arrested were indeed on their way to Eastern Cape to bury someone and even the person who was in the coffin was a suspect from Marikana. The allegation that the suspects were made to lie on the ground waiting for the Minister to score political points was fictitious. The notion that there was a militarisation of SAPS should be rejected as this was not the approach of SAPS. The rankings within did not imply militarisation. The professionalism of SAPS was important as noted by some Members.
The Minister responded that SAPS had implemented the rural safety strategy to deal with farm murders. There is a need to take into consideration that there are those racist farmers who are killing innocent people and claim to have mistaken them for a monkey. A safety network is being implemented by farmers in Gauteng and this was impressive with farmers both black and white coming together to fight crime. There are farmers who employ illegal and undocumented immigrants and they can be referred to as “rotten apples”. SAPS was talking with farmers and outlining this and highlighting the importance of cooperation.
Minister Mbalula agreed with Members that indeed there are still areas of concern. There is a huge increase in reporting of sexual offences in the country and this is a reality and not rumours. It is clear that sexual offences are not only committed by poor people but high profile people who hold high positions. There is a lot of work being done by Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and SAPS should be working together with these role players. There are statistics on sexual offences and these are reported cases and obviously excluded unreported cases.
The Minister responded that there is still a need to look into the increase in Trio Crimes and why there had been an increase in these crimes. He said there is a need to remove “rotten apples” within SAPS and prioritise the vetting of SAPS members. It was concerning and risky to have the situation where some of the officials in crime intelligence are not vetted although they are supposed to be handling the top secrets of the country. The lack of vetting of officials in crime intelligence was likely to result into anarchy. The police should be vetted by other police within SAPS and there should be such a structure in place rather than having to go the State Security Agency. It must be emphasised that those who are not vetted will not be expelled from SAPS.
The Minister agreed with the suggestion by Mr Ramatlakane on the need to focus on areas where there is prevalence of crime. The strategy used by SAPS is to progressively act against criminals and this is not to assault people and every strategy should be within the jurisdiction of law. The priority should be to unsettle criminals and this once again was not just lip service but action. The police are doing a wonderful job in arresting some of the most dangerous criminals.
The Minister added that police visibility was important in dealing with crime as this is part of the strategy of SAPS. There is a need to act promptly and urgently in dealing with crime and the police should always be ahead of the criminals. The rise in stock theft was perhaps talking to the social conditions in the country. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) had been misled but it did not mean it was useless. There will be a look into the matter of local statistics. The station commanders are supposed to be interacting with community members about crime that needed to be prioritised. SAPS was looking at closing down illegal and unlicensed shebeens in the townships as these are indeed sources of criminal activity. Communities will need to work with SAPS in identifying these shebeens.
Acting National Police Commissioner, Lt Gen Lesetja Mothiba, responded that top management had already approved the strategy to deal with Trio Crimes in the country and the Committee will be briefed on the plan in due course.
Maj General Sekhukhune replied that the plan to deal with Trio Crime has been evaluated and there had been some improvements in the plan that had been put in place. There is a national Trio Crime Task Team to deal with these serious crimes.
Lt General Mothiba agreed that indeed kidnapping was new in South Africa and usually involved foreigners as pointed out by the Minister. SAPS will not get into the details of these operations as these are highly sensitive.
Maj General Sekhukhune replied that the role of the crime registrar is to advice the station commanders on ways to improve on policing and appropriate strategies to employ in the fight against dominant crimes in a specific area. The crime statistics were not certified yet as the Statistician General will still need to assess the collected data and then verify and certify the accuracy of the data. There is no such capacity in place within the crime registrar and this was one of the concerns of SAPS.
Lt General Bethuel Zuma, SAPS Provincial Commissioner: Mpumalanga, replied that there are unprecedented waves of violence in Mpumalanga including mob killings. There are killings in Kruger National Park between the rangers and poachers and this has contributed to the increase in murder and attempted murder. There are cases of robbery of tourists in the region and this was being looked into. The illegal mining or the so called “zama-zamas” contributed to the increase in crime. Generally speaking, there was a steady decline in other crime in the province.
Acting National Police Commissioner Mothiba agreed that there are still cases of underreporting on sexual offences and domestic violence in the country. There are cases where families will discourage the victims from reporting sexual offences and even offering bribes in some cases.
Lt General Bonang Mgwenya, SAPS Head of Human Resource Management, replied that a criminal audit was being conducted by SAPS of its members. A total of 296 of such SAPS members were recorded as having retired. There were members of SAPS that were employed with illegal activities and this was worrisome.
Ms Kohler-Barnard requested the statistics for SAPS members with criminal records and asked if the statistics to be provided were accurate and up to date.
Lt General Mgwenya responded that the figures were accurate but the auditing is constantly being conducted and updated.
Acting National Police Commissioner Mothiba responded that statistics on farm murders were available and would be provided to the Committee in writing. The information was not readily available at the moment.
Mr Groenewald requested that statistics on farm murders should be released now as the information was already available from SAPS. It is important for the Committee not to allow the situation where some of the Committee questions are not being answered as this was part of showing accountability. There should be a distinction between the different types of robberies including aggravated robbery.
Ms Molebatsi noted that SAPS had already indicated that the information on farm murders was available and will be forwarded to the Committee, but was just not readily available at the moment.
The Minister said that he was not aware that the SAPS presentation needed to include statistics on farm murders but this will certainly be taken into consideration. The public should not be under the impression that SAPS was not answering some of the questions.
Maj General Sekhukhune replied that there was an increase in stock theft in the country but this was especially the case in the Free State. There is a strategy in place to deal with carjacking including monitoring of borders. While the survey of rape victims was "not inferential", it was important to get to the root cause of incidence of rape. 24.7% of victims consumed alcohol, and 6.9% consumed drugs before being raped.
Lt General Mothiba said that Trio Crimes are not the priority of SAPS as the focus is on all criminal activities. There is no link between increase in commercial crime and illicit tobacco although this was something that was on an increase within the tobacco industry.
Mr Shaik-Emam asked for more information on the planned Imbizo by the Minister. The increase in carjacking was a serious concern and SAPS would need to work together with border officials to ensure that there is close monitoring.
Ms Mmola asked about the work of the flying squad in dealing with hardened criminals.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked about training on Public Order Policing. The oversight visit in Nyanga on Sunday showed that while the population in the area was increasing, the available resources kept on dwindling. There should be a system in place for rewarding good police officers who are doing their work meticulously.
Lt General Mothiba noted that the cases categorised as “unfounded” are those where the person falsely reported a crime. The challenges in the use of the flying squad were the capacity and the availability of enough vehicles.
Lt General Mgwenya replied that trainees are going through three-week training on crowd management. This was previously two days' training but it was extended. There are refresher courses in place and SAPS members who are enrolled in these courses are just below 5 000.
Minister Mbalula responded that the National Crime Prevention Strategy was being reviewed by SAPS and this strategy was last reviewed in 1996. Cybercrime was a main concern and there is a need for a strategy to respond to this problem. The review of the National Crime Prevention Strategy will include local people to make an input on strategies to be used by SAPS. SAPS needed to consolidate the strategies introduced by previous National Police Commissioners so that they are not changed in their entirety as this was time consuming. The spike in carjacking spoke to managing and monitoring of borders and prevent bribery. There should be cooperation with the South African Development Community (SADC) regions to deal collaboratively with this problem of carjacking as this was syndicated crime. There are carjacked vehicles that are being driven by high flying politicians in the country and this showed the scourge of the problem.
The meeting was adjourned.