Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SA Minister: "If you don't like crime, leave the country!"

South African Minister of Safety & Security,Charles Nqakula, in parliament, saying the following: "They can continue to winge until they are blue in the face. They can continue to be as negative as they want to, or... they can simply leave this country..."

This is our governments feeling about innocent people who are sick and tired of being robbed, raped and murdered in their homes and on our streets. The South African government is ignoring the rising levels of crime and corruption and the South African people are sick of it!


Snowy Smith said...


Two reports this week revealed the chasm between what the SA Police Service finds important: while one in every three operational policemen – 50 000 in all - have been invited to a three-day jamboree to celebrate National Police Day in Bloemfontein at a cost of around R40 million, a farmer from North West – Mr. Wilhelm Rochér – spent a weekend in jail for defending himself against stock thieves caught red-handed. Mr. Rochér is out on bail.

The fact that the police were only too ready to throw Mr. Rochér into a cell inspires little confidence in a system which continues to lose its focus. Before an investigation has begun, Mr. Rochér is deemed guilty and is thus marked for incarceration. (South Africa is replete with reports of mob justice being applied in townships where perceived criminals are assaulted and even murdered by groups. We rarely hear of any arrests after these incidents!)

Mr. Rochér was arrested for murder in circumstances where he appears to be a victim, not a criminal. The fact that farmers must themselves pursue stock thieves says everything about the state of policing in South Africa. In any other self-respecting country, the thieves would have been apprehended by a police force charged with doing just that. In South Africa, a farmer finds himself facing possible imprisonment for taking over the duties of the state in order to defend himself and to regain possession of his own property!

One of the main reasons why overseas ticket sales for the FIFA World Cup are lagging behind expectations is South African crime. And crime can only flourish if the country’s law and order apparatus does not function. Latest figures show South African ticket sales accounting for 79% of the total, with just over 50 000 tickets sold in the US, 41 000 in Germany and 15 000 in Australia. South Africa may face a serious setback regarding this event which is supposed to be a showcase. What will be revealed is the depth and breadth of South Africa’s crime scourge, despite assurances by Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa that R1,3 billion is budgeted to assure the safety of visitors to the FIFA Cup. .

Thus policing and its concomitant functions of investigation towards ensuring conviction are so integral to South Africa’s future that the spotlight placed on the police is well deserved. Unfortunately, the SAPS does not live up to its challenges – not by a very large margin.

Snowy Smith said...

In August last year, an agreement was concluded between farmers and the police that a special Task Team would be appointed to fully investigate stock theft in the Swartruggens area, where Mr. Rochér farms. This investigation never happened.

Daily incidents of poor police behaviour are reported in various media. The TV programme Carte Blanche revealed last week in vivid detail how the “blue light” police cars force people off the road. A woman motorist and her husband were taken to a local station, beaten up and harassed because they didn’t move out of the way quickly enough. Other reports have come to light of this type of banana-republic badgering.

Between 2001 and 2009, the number of firearms lost by SAPS members or stolen from them increased by 166%. The SAPS has now ordered 4 000 new Beretta pistols at a cost of R16 million to replace the 3 000 odd that have been lost or stolen, and the SAPS is “unwittingly fuelling the illegal arms trade” declared the Democratic Alliance. Four thousand new pistols will be in circulation because nobody can find the 3 000 that have disappeared.

On 15 September 2009, Minister of Police Mthethwa announced that legislation empowering police to respond more forcefully to dangerous criminals was close to finalisation. But if police are not around to enforce legislation, and the public is compelled to self defend, why would the public’s actions be any less justifiable than a policeman’s in the same situation?

South Africa’s crime conviction rate is one of the lowest in the world. In the 2007/2008 year, the number of crimes committed was 2.03 million. Of these, only 0.25 million resulted in convictions. One of the reasons – and there are many – could be the loss and theft of police dockets. From 2002/4 to 2008/9, the number of case dockets lost or stolen increased from the official figures of 343 to 668. The real figure is probably much higher.

There is a huge skills deficit. The June 2008 Business Day reported that 60% of evidence gathered at crime scenes was unusable, due to poor collection which ruined the samples. The report quoted figures from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) which found that of the 42 000 samples sent to the biology unit of the SAPS forensic laboratory, 25 200 were not analysed. The ISS report found that forensic field workers were insufficiently trained. It was estimated that only about 10% of the 42 000 cases would eventually be analysed. (SA Institute of Race Relations Fast Facts January 2010)

Snowy Smith said...

Official statistics are dodgy at best. Reports are myriad of the SAPS doctoring crime figures to make the picture less alarming and for other more nefarious reasons. Recently, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) found that crime statistics at Mountain Rise police station in Pietermaritzburg were manipulated. (Mail & Guardian Jan 29, 2010)

As a result of the tampering Mountain Rise was the top station in Kwa Zulu Natal last year, and station officials received bonuses totaling R500 000 as a reward. Head of the station Hariram Badul has been arrested with three other policemen from the station for allegedly defrauding the state of R1 million worth of equipment, including computers which were recovered during a police raid. Also recovered were 147 dockets, six case book registers and three statistic registers. Many crimes were not registered on the case administration system. A whistle blower who reported this was suspended without pay. Badul had told his staff that only cases where the culprits were “easily obtainable” were to be investigated. The rest of the dockets were locked in a room. These unprocessed dockets were about to be burnt when the whilstle blower approached the courts. He has since been reinstated.

Crimes that are heavily dependent on police action for detection have increased remarkably – illegal possession of firearms and ammunition has increased by nearly 50% from 1994 to 2008, drug related crime by about 135% and driving under the influence by more than 110%. (SA Institute of Race Relations October 2009) This reveals negligence and incompetence within the SAPS which appears to be increasing.

A Pretoria man who was attacked and shot during a botched robbery was told by a station commissioner to “find a private detective to look into the case”. He was visited by a police officer in hospital after the incident and asked to pay R10 000 for the private investigator, and the man is now suing the SAPS.

A woman died on the bathroom floor of the Eldorado Park police station after three police officers took her from her home for questioning after she had witnessed a crime. (The Star January 6, 2010) The woman, a thyroid sufferer, was held against her will and died because of complications setting in because of lack of a doctor’s care. Deaths in police custody have declined from 334 in 2003 to 302 in 2007/8, but these are police figures and are in doubt.

The SAPS is an integral arm of the government, but it is unable to function properly and this affects all walks of South African life. From farms to the cities, the crime figures are not abating. The private security industry flourishes, and without this group and our own defences, we would be all victims.

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