Police Minister Fikile Mbalula “isn’t feeling” the general 1.8% decrease in crime during the 2016/17 financial year, and has yet again warned violent criminals that they will be dealt with in a “proportional response”.
“Crime is in 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,” said Mbalula, presenting the crime statistics for 2016/17 to the Portfolio Committee on Police on Tuesday morning.
“Yes, we have a 1.8% drop in crime, I do 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.”
Mbalula said South Africans must ask whether they had accepted living side by side with violent criminals.
“Is criminality a South African citizen itself? Our answer must be an emphatic and radical ‘No!’,” he said.
“We must deal with crime in a radical and energetic way – our language must be clear and understood.”
He insisted that he “seriously means” it when he says violent criminals will receive a response proportional to their actions.
“Today, I am saying to criminal gangs, Nilibambe Lingashoni – I am coming for you hard, enough is enough.”
Mbalula didn’t only talk tough on criminals, but was also willing to introspect on the police’s own failings.
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‘We have relaunched specialised units’
He slammed the “lazy efforts” of police to curb crimes that were indicative of police effectiveness.
“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%,” said Mbalula.
“This increase is too small and 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.”
He said the “chop and change” of police commissioners – from Bheki Cele to Riah Phiyega, to various acting national commissioners – had affected the focus and direction of the police.
He also expressed his concern about decreasing police numbers and the top-heavy structure.
“Honourable members, this is not just talk. We are strengthening our capacity, we are appointing strategic thinkers in police management and stabilising our Crime Intelligence Division to enable intelligence-led crime prevention and policing.
“We have relaunched specialised units to focus on drugs, rape, violent threats and violent criminals. We are enhancing our technological capacity to match the evolved digital technology arena.”
By Jan Gerber for News24