Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise along with Police Minister Bheki Cele said at the weekend Cabinet’s security cluster was “committed to restoring the integrity of South Africa’s safety and security machinery” following its erosion by challenges and shortcomings.
Without specific mentions, but obviously in reference to the July violence and unrest that left more than 300 people dead, saw billions worth of infrastructure damaged and wiped an estimated R50 billion from the national economy, they indicated in a statement “capacity and resource issues” in the security and justice systems are being addressed. This will ensure the “security machinery remains fit for purpose and meets international standards”.
As far as government intelligence services are concerned, the State Security Agency (SSA) and Crime Intelligence will ensure critical posts left vacant by suspensions, resignations, promotions and deaths are filled.
“A forensic investigation was initiated and a forensic investigation firm appointed to conduct an investigation into malfeasance in the SSA. The agency recently dismissed about four members found guilty of fraud and corruption. The SSA made progress working with the Investigative Directorate to ensure persons involved in criminality will be prosecuted,” a statement issued by DoDMV head of communication Siphiwe Dlamini on behalf on the justice, crime prevention and security cluster reads.
On the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Modise said it continues to be on standby to protect all national key points as well as economic corridors from disruption or blockages, either from protesting truck drivers or other disruptive elements.
The SANDF continues to defend South Africa’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by conducting border safeguarding operations – particularly on land borders. “This is to curb cross-border movement of undocumented persons, illicit goods and drugs, weapons, livestock and stolen vehicles. The defence force registered spectacular successes in this regard by intercepting many luxury cars being smuggled to neighbouring countries and the interception of drug smuggling (sic)”, according to the statement.
In addition to assisting law enforcement agencies, Minister Modise said the SANDF also assists with construction of bridges by availing the SA Army Engineer Formation to the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme.
“These bridges will assist in curbing school children drowning while trying to cross swollen rivers to get to school and assist pensioners to access pension grants. We have already constructed 16 bridges in KwaZulu-Natal and 18 in Eastern Cape, enabling thousands to cross dangerous rivers to reach clinics, schools and other service delivery points.
“In the coming months and years, we will intensify this programme consistent with marching orders from the Commander-in-Chief (President Cyril Ramaphosa).”
Modise said the JCPS Cluster flagged a “deliberate undermining of the rule of law” during protests as an area of concern.
“Our stance is clear in this regard: our officers will enforce the rule of law without fear or favour where people deliberately undermine the authority of the State. No one has the right, irrespective of their grievances or dissatisfaction, to break the law.
“[As] Ministers in the Security Cluster, we are committed to creating a safe and conducive environment that will reassure both citizens of this country and international tourists and investors alike, they will be safe when they come to do business in this country.
“We call upon all peace-loving people of this country to work with us as we transform and improve the security machinery that will serve all of us without fear or favour.”
Another concern of the cluster is the “low level of trust” between members of the public and law enforcement agencies.
“We will endeavour to rebuild trust between officers deployed in communities and community members. This will entail reviving the Community Policing Forums (CPFs), which will work with local police stations to fight crime. This will ensure an inclusive approach to assessing threats in communities and put in place the necessary responses,” Modise said.
In further efforts to shore up South Africa’s security machinery, the South African Police Service (SAPS) is on a recruitment drive, which is expected to boost the service with at least 12 000 more officers by year-end.
“The recruitment of 7 000 [officers] is in its final stages, while later in the year, the SAPS will recruit 5 000 to undergo training next year. The 7 000 are from the 2019/2020 intake, which was ready to embark on the Basic Police and Development Programme when the country was put under hard lockdown in March 2020,” Modise said.
“The training of this 7 000, plus an additional 3 000 SAPS reservists and public service administration members, will commence in the 2022/2023 financial year.”
According to Modise, SAPS is also recruiting Bachelor of Science graduates and those from other fields of study.
“This will increase the strength of SAPS in its mandate to prevent and fight crime in communities. We will continually assess capacity levels in SAPS and recruit accordingly to ensure we increase the strength of the police from 180 000 officers to serve the county’s population of more than 60 million people.”