Parliamentary Question: DoP: Operation Duty Calls National Festive Season Crime-Fighting campaign


Remarks by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP

On the occasion of the reporting on the Operation Duty Calls National Festive Season Crime-Fighting campaign,

SAPS Tshwane Training Academy, Pretoria
15 January 2013

Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Makhotso Sotyu;

National Commissioner of Police, General Riah Phiyega;

Senior SAPS Generals present;

Members of the Media;

Compliments of the New Year to all law-abiding South Africans; from the entire leadership, management and members of South African Police Service (SAPS).

We extend our appreciation to members of the media present this morning as we share with the nation the 2012/13 Operation Duty Calls Festive Season Crime-Fighting operations. The campaign commenced on 15 October 2012 and will officially end on 31 January 2013.

To this end, after month end SAPS will collate the final provincial reports and these will be presented to the National Commissioner. However, from the interim reports, which we are sharing today, they indicate that the festive season anti-crime operations were overwhelming successes.

As you would recall, we launched the campaign at Jane Furse in Limpopo. In essence, at the time we made a clarion call to different stakeholders to partner and support our police, in dealing with the scourge of crime.

This campaign centred around a six-pillar approach focusing on aggravated robberies, border security, firearms, liquor and Second Hand Goods Act enforcement, by-law enforcements, crimes against women, children, persons with disabilities and the elderly as well as road safety enforcement.

During this festive season, we embarked on various policing operations countrywide, interacting with our communities, business sectors and various organised structures with an objective of intensifying our fight against crime.

Successes achieved included searching 1 477 901 persons, 501 373 vehicles and conducting 3 614 road blocks. In addition over 67 000 (67 707) suspects were arrested in all nine provinces; ranging from murder, robberies, rape, assault, kidnapping, attempted murder, murder, burglary at houses and business premises, drug related crimes, fraud and shoplifting.

For the whole festive season, there were only 2 cash-in-transit robberies in the country, and both occurred in the Eastern Cape. We are happy to report that suspects were arrested and cases are now before court. Further successes where we have witnessed significant declines were around the bank robberies, where only 2 robberies took place for the whole festive season. One took place in the Western Cape and the other in Limpopo. All other provinces witnessed zero robberies.

During this period, we also issued a total of 51 191 fines to various offenders, ranging from traffic violations, illegally-operating liquor outlets and other by-laws such as customs.

We remain very concerned about the lack of adherence to the rules of the road, which as reported by the Department of Transport, have resulted in fatalities and loss of lives. It is the responsibility of all of us to obey the rules of the road. We arrested 2 751 suspects for driving under the influence, which is exceptionally high.

During this festive season, to date we confiscated 451 stolen vehicles nationally, confiscated 721 illegal firearms and 7 638 ammunition including 9 commercial explosives. To this end, we arrested 296 suspects for theft of motor vehicles and motor cycles, nationally.

We have emphasized our resolve to fight the scourge on drugs, which impacts negatively on our communities particularly the youth. Our resolve is not merely to arrest the sniffers of drugs such as nyaope, woonga and tik, but we have now begun to crack the backbone of crime syndicates.

For this period, we confiscated 6 million grams of dagga, 2 832 grams of cocaine, 4 225 grams of nyaope, 2 551 grams of tik, to mention but a few. A total of 8 889 suspects were arrested during this period, for drug related crimes.

There are specific drug houses that were raided and some of the kingpins arrested, and this was achieved through information-sharing and coordination with our different units, including the Hawks, Crime Intelligence and Detectives.

In one of the biggest busts, two laboratories were raided in one day (15 November 2012) at Randburg and Roodeport respectively. Four suspects were arrested and drugs to the value of worth R30 million were confiscated. In another drug bust in this month, in Chatsworth we confiscated cocaine, ecstasy and mandrax to the value on R5 million as well as R1,5 million cash.

We are aware that resolving this challenge is not only about effective policing systems, but that society has a fundamental role to play, particularly the family orientation of some of these drug victims. It is a societal challenge that must be tackled collectively.

For this festive season, our policing approach was not only focused on cities and urban areas, but also rural areas as part of our rural safety plan. We are pleased to report that we confiscated 375 stolen cattle, 624 stolen sheep and other livestock. As part of sustaining these operations, we are looking into strengthening cooperation with some of our neighbouring countries.

We are also cognisant that the latter part of last year was characterised by various protests around the country. Perhaps it would be ideal to reiterate our stance around public protests. We respect the right of citizens to protests as that is a Constitutionally-enshrined right and we have no intentions to temper with these rights. We however, firmly opposed to any violent, destruction of property, intimidation and murder of innocent people whilst all these criminal acts, are being disguised and justified as public protests.

We shall deal with any lawlessness, within the framework of the law and ensure that we defend all law-abiding citizens. To give impetus to this statement, during the festive season were arrested 704 suspects for public violence and some of the cases are still before the courts.

The other notable progress in terms of our approach has been around shopping malls. As many would recall, some few years back, we experienced increases in attacks on shoppers at malls. During the current festive season, we are happy to report that not a single robbery was experienced at any of our malls.

We can also attribute our successes to the aspect of smart policing, which is anchored around utilizing information, communication and technology (ICT) to fight crime. Through various command centres at various provinces, we are now able to not only share information about some of the most wanted suspects, but we can also improve our effectiveness.

Over the past few years, South Africans in particular the residents of Gauteng would become nervous, anticipating violent and wild celebrations at Hillbrow. These violent celebrations, at times leading to loss of lives, did not augur positively for the province and South Africa as a country.

That is why we began to pay attention to this area and as a result of proper planning, partnering with local communities, what people experienced this time were very peaceful celebrations. Not even a single act of violence was reported. We commend all our police officers for the sterling work and urge them to foster this good working-together.

In recent years, we began stressing the smart-policing approach. We emphasized that an approach of working in silos must become a thing of the past as we are now creating synergies and ensure that information is optimally utilized. These systems are now beginning to yield considerable successes in the fight against crime, both provincially and nationally.

Police are now able to track criminal activities at key prime spots such as taxi ranks and malls through advanced high-tech systems. The centre will enable for a more proactive and reactive responses by our intelligence for prioritized crime.

The fundamental aspect towards the success of these operations is that they were not natural or unsystematic occurrences influenced by sheer luck. These were achieved through partnerships, effective strategies, proper planning, focused and intelligence-led approaches.

A key lesson for all of us drawn from this festive season campaign, is to replicate lessons learnt to inform normal day-to-day policing. Although we are satisfied with how the festive season went as far as the safety is concerned, our work is not complete. The tasks ahead are still massive, yet we believe such successes will motivate our men and women in blue to work even harder.

We still remain concerned about sexual offences and crimes such as rapes against women, children and the elderly. For this period, we arrested 1 357 suspects for rape and 82 for attempted rape. Our police officers are working around the clock to ensure that they secure harsher convictions of these suspects.

We will continue with implementing and reviewing our plans, anchored under a philosophy of continuous improvement and training. We emphasized the importance of the accelerating the transformational agenda of the department, into a professional service.

We are proud of the members of the SAPS who worked tirelessly during this period. Their dedication towards the safekeeping of our society is a shining example of the kind of officers we expect. While most of you were enjoying quality time with friends and relatives, these dedicated men and women in blue, carried their duties with vigour, determination and pride.

We are strengthening command and control across the organization. We are improving our systems and move towards creating a professional police service. A service that adheres to the Constitutional principles, a service that produces quality officers and a service that inspires hope to the citizens of our country. To achieve this, we emphasized training as a fundamental programme for us.

We want to also focus all our energies in ensuring that we do not only arrest those who are on the wrong side of the law, but mainly secure convictions. In order to do that, we are re-enforcing our detective and investigative arms. We shall not soften our tough approach on criminals.

We want to assure South Africans going forward, that we have taken positive lessons from these festive season operations. We have a plan, we have the commitment of our members and we shall sustain the momentum in the fight against crime.

I thank you.