SPEAKING NOTES FOR POLICE MINISTER GENERAL BHEKI CELE (MP) ON THE OCASSION OF THE POST SONA DEBATE 2023 HOSTED IN CAPE TOWN ON 14 FEBRUARY 2023
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon Nosiviwe Mapisa Ngqakula;
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Hon Amos Mosondo;
His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa
Honourable Deputy President, Mr David Mabuza
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Sanibonani, Dumelang, Good day
Receive my safety and security greetings this morning, on behalf of the selfless men and women in blue who are at the coalface of responding to gruesome crime scenes on the daily basis; The dedicated detectives who continue to solve complicated cases and further secure significant life sentences in curbing violent crimes; And in the name of our fallen heroes who are killed in the line of duty while serving and protecting fellow South Africans.
I wish to anchor this debate on the wise words of the late Civil rights activist, John Lewis. During a trying and difficult time, he reminded Americans and humanity as a whole, of their collective responsibility and power when he said, I quote:
"When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something." Close quote.
Allow me to use these words, to emphasize the importance of a community centered approach in the overall fight against crime. If communities can do justice to what Lewis argues; then police AND communities can eventually realise the vision of halving violent crimes in our country, in the prescribed time. If the community members of KwaZakhele, KwaMashu, Khayelitsha, Soweto, Gugulethu, Margate and the criminal underworld syndicates can speak up and do something- then the results will show.
We are also making a clarion call to other sections of society, be it academia, business, the clergy the media and other organize groupings ~ don’t be spectators! Join the fight against crime.
Please join the fight against crime and stop debating for political point scoring. As a matter of fact, police and the communities they serve; are literally married in the union of law and order supported by peace and stability for the nation Police are a product of the communities that raised them.
It remains encouraging that there are pieces of legislation aimed at closing gaps that are hampering on policing. This includes the SAPS Act, which is being amended to strengthen the functioning of Community Policing Forums (CPFs). The Amendments will ensure that CPFs; are provided with adequate resources to enable them to function optimally. Police need communities and communities need the police “Iphoyisa Iphoyisa Ngomphakathi”
We are further encouraged that the role of CPFs is taken seriously by all communities. To date a total of 1156 police stations in the country have active CPFs, with an exception of 3 police stations in the North West and Northern Cape Province respectively, which are mainly policing highly remote farms.
His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa has introduced a programme that will accelerate service delivery, through Operation Vulindlela Reforms to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement in the country. The policing reforms will see a significant transformation of the SAPS 10111 Call Centres, which remains the heart of communication, between communities and the police.
The prioritization of Operation Vulindlela Reforms will include a recovery plan to address personnel shortages, through a mass recruitment drive and other technological advancements. Operation Vulindlela Reforms will also see the building and maintenance of police stations to improve access to the police, by victims of crime. Reforms in SAPS garages, will have a direct impact on police visibility. Meanwhile, a significant investment of over R1.8 billion has been injected in the improvement of police resources on the ground.
To date in the current financial year, 3 229 vehicles have been bought and will be added to the existing vehicle fleet at station level. This will mean more vehicles are on patrol to improve the turnaround time in responding to service delivery complaints.
GENDER BASED VIOLENCE AND FEMICIDE
Your support in passing of laws in this August house is having a broader impact on the fight against crime and support in policing. Case in point, is the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act also referred to as the (DNA Act). It was signed into law by the President on 9 December 2022, and will come into operation on the 3rd of March 2023. The DNA Act is a crucial weapon in the police’s arsenal of crime fighting tools against GBVF, specifically with regard to the identification of offenders. The new law will mean serial offenders, will be identified, linked through DNA collection and prosecuted for all past and present crimes. This Act will also mean serial rapists are stopped in their tracks.
Over 4 900 suspects were arrested on gender-based violence charges in the first nine months of the 2022/2023 financial year.
185 of the accused were sentenced to life imprisonment.
While GBVF remains a priority crime for the SAPS, however, it should not be left in the hands of the police alone. This is why we make a call to communities and the broader society to also play their part. This brutality on women inflicted by men, requires more than shock and outrage. It requires action from ALL of us and for MEN to change their violent and cowardice ways. While police will continue to arrest these killer partners after the crime has been committed.
The sad truth on this Valentines Day, is that many victims of intimate partner violence are often failed by extreme silence across all immediate support structures. Women like Reeva Steenkamp, Karabo Mokoena, Jennifer Mahlomi, Tshegofatso Pule, Ntokozo Xaba and Nosicelo Mtebeni, Cleo Diko and thousands more whose names we may not know, were killed allegedly at the hands of men they loved and trusted. Today marks ten years since Reeva Steenkamps’ life was cut short at the hands of her partner.The crux of Intimate partner violence is in its nature, complicated to police. It requires families, communities and the law, to work together. It is a betrayal of humanity, to look away and ignore abuse and violence. When you SEE something, SAY something and DO something! “Sithi kum’ndeni nabangani, Nom’phakathi, maba khuze umhlola, ubikele amaphoyisa”
Incidences of reckless behaviour and trigger-happy thugs who thrive in constant bloodshed, requires an intense community centered and intelligence led solution. Firearms remain the leading weapon of choice in murders. This is why the SAPS will continue to intensify its operations to detect and remove illegal firearms and ammunition from the streets of South Africa. In the past twelve months, 65 519 firearms have been permanently removed from circulation.
Police will continue to act on those who attempt to undermine the country’s social security through mass killings. We are working hard on eliminating these kinds of attacks through revisiting policies and legislation around the country’s gun laws, whilst police are making arrests in this regard. Specialized units within the SAPS are being equipped to zone-in on identified crimes and address policing needs.
In addition to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations – known as the Hawks – South Africa has 16 special policing units operating on national level, and 22 more special units operating at provincial levels. These units are staffed with skilled personnel and are already improving how police are responding to the areas of focus.
PROJECT 10 THOUSAND
The call by communities for more police, is not falling on deaf ears. This administration is vigorously and urgently addressing the shortage of police.
Last year in December, 10 thousand new Constables joined the police ranks, following a never seen before massive recruitment to capacitate the SAPS. The thousands of new boots on the ground have been added to Top 30 contact crime police stations.
Meanwhile, the police management has given the utmost priority in enhancing human capital investment in the police. This includes the training of 4000 Public Order Police (POP) members, training specialised forces including Tactical Response Teams (TRT) and the training of detectives and forensic experts.This year, 10 thousand more recruits will be selected trained and will join the police service and increase the SAPS footprint in communities.
Firm and decisive action is underway to bring an end and arrest individuals or syndicates behind economic infrastructure crimes that are crippling the economy. This threat to the republic is being responded to and decisively so, by the Economic Infrastructure Task Teams which are functioning in over 20 identified areas. Police units are cracking down on copper and metal theft, damage and vandalism to public infrastructure, economic sabotage, extortion, narcotics and illegal mining.
Between 1 April 2022 to 31 December of the same year, there were 350 arrests made from a total of 1 153 cases of essential infrastructure rail related crimes.
In response to the 2021 July unrest , police have arrested 84 suspects charged with conspiracy to commit public violence and incitement.
74 of these suspects are before the courts where theNational Prosecuting Authority is also considering the inclusion of domestic terrorism charges .
Police have intercepted 293 Illegal mining operations and investigated 353 cases. 885 suspects have been arrested for illegal mining in the last six months of 2022.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that a Safety Partnership between communities and the police must be realized and can no longer be an option, to turn back the tide against crime.
We are ALL part of the solution. I thank you