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‘No justification’ for shocking crime stats – but there are plans to fix them: police minister


South Africa’s official crime statistics for January – March 2022 are a low note for safety in the country, says police minister Bheki Cele.

Presenting the data in a media briefing on Friday (3 June), Cele said the first three months of 2022 have been marred by more murders, more sexual violence, and more assaults compared to the same period in 2021.

“The question is what went wrong? I have asked the management of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the provincial commissioners of all nine provinces the exact same question,” he said.

“Honestly, no answer justified these dismal figures but we all agreed, that all Provinces, Districts, Clusters and Stations need to do things differently if indeed we want to see desired outcomes. The ‘difference’ we speak of, starts with minor to major changes.

“This includes improved working conditions of officers: Ensure the availability of the required tools of the trade to respond to crime and rooting out officers who choose to intentionally fail the communities they are meant to serve.”

He added that police alone cannot win the fight against crime and that his department needs to cultivate deeper partnerships with communities built on trust, commitment, and delivery. Cele said the SAPS can no longer afford to pay lip service but must introduce accountability at stations if we are to truly serve and protect this nation.

“This is why immediate interventions have now been put in place to address the dip in performance.”

Interventions 

Some of the interventions announced by Cele include:

  • GBV desks: The introduction of ‘gender-based violence’ (GBV) desks at 1,154 police stations countrywide. These desks are staffed with members trained in GBVF-related courses.
  • Accountability plans: New ‘station accountability plans’ have been introduced at the country’s 30 top police stations with the most crimes. The plans require all station commanders will be expected to closely monitor their unique crime situations. Every two weeks, commanders will also be expected to evaluate and put in place relevant operational plans to curb crime.
  • Guardian program: Senior officers from the national level have been deployed to the top 30 police stations as part of the ‘police station guardian’ program They will oversee clear targets of crime reduction and eradication within timeframes that must be met, said Cele.
  • Corruption: Cele said crime intelligence must be beefed up at the station level for effective crime-fighting, adding that the SAPS cannot be a haven for criminals disguised as officers of the law and that the police service will ‘clean house’.
  • Police vans: Cele said one of the most common complaints of community members is that there are no police vans to come and attend to their policing needs. “The police vans are usually out of action and waiting in long queues at garages to be maintained or fixed. To mitigate this, the process of repairing SAPS vehicles is being overhauled”.

Read: New data shows shocking rise in violent crime in South Africa



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