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

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Remarks by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP on the occasion of the 2012 Tracker SAPS National Awards, Velmore Hotel, Centurion, Gauteng

05 October 2012

National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Riah Phiyega;

Deputy National Commissioner Crime Detection Lt. Gen Godfrey Lebeya;

Member of the Mayoral Committee of Tshwane, Councillor Terence Mashego;

Chairman of the Tracker Board, Mr John Newbury;

Tracker CEO, Mr Alan Hutcheson;

Senior Management and Officers from the South African Police Service (SAPS);

National Award Nominees of the Tracker SAPS Awards;

Members of Tracker Network Board;

Management of Tracker Network;

Distinguished Guests;

Members of the media;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

We are once again humbled to have been invited as the police leadership to address the 2012 Tracker SAPS National Awards ceremony. This is a partnership that we recognize and all of us as a collective must protect and sustain it. It is after all a duty of everyone to work together in fighting and reducing crime.

The value of this private-public sector partnership must be jealously guarded because it is dealing a blow to crime syndicates. It is a good example of just what is possible when the two sectors unite and work towards a common goal.

A lot of progress in the fight against crime has been noted in the past three years. This progress, to a large extent can be attributed to the contribution of different partners from different spheres, yet who all share a common vision: a safe and secure country. This progress has been further confirmed by the crime statistics that we released two weeks ago, which indicated amongst others:

Murder decreased by 3,1%, Attempted Murder decreased by 5,2%, Common Assault decreased by 3,4%, Car Hijackings decreased by 11,9%, Cash-In-Transit decreased by 37,5%, Bank Robberies decreased by 10,3% and ATM Bombings decreased by 34,6%, to mention but a few.

When Tracker and SAPS became partners in 1996, rampant vehicle crime levels in South Africa were making headlines around the world. The picture today – while vehicle crime remains a serious concern for all South Africans, it has come down significantly in recent years – thanks, in no small part, to this SAPS-Tracker partnership.

Most vehicle recoveries – over the past 16 years, Tracker and the SAPS have recovered close to 60 000 stolen and hijacked vehicles.

Most arrests – as a consequence of all the vehicles that have been recovered, more than 11 000 arrests have now been made. This is particularly important when one considers how often stolen vehicles are involved in many other forms of violent crimes. The partnership has developed to such an extent that in certain provinces we are now making 2 arrests for every 3 vehicles that are recovered.

Increase the number of detectives, ensure better training – From our side, work is underway to translate the arrests into effective convictions. We do so through increasing the number of detectives, as well as enhancing related training. The review process has also revealed the need for better career-pathing within the detective section, and also within the SAPS generally.

We are proud to be associated with Tracker, which is the country’s largest vehicle tracking company with its technology fitted to more than 750 000 (mostly high risk) vehicles. This is an indelible investment in the SAPS.

At no cost to the SAPS, Tracker’s recovery technology is fitted to close on 1400 police vehicles and some 50 aircraft. Tracker ensures that all SAPS members are fully trained and including supporting the SAPS with our own ground recovery operations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The success of government’s approach to the fight against crime is dependent on establishing strong partnerships with communities. We are now looking at new ways of fighting crime. We do so by reviewing some of the tools that may have helped us in the past, and how we can implement new approaches to ensure we sustain the momentum in this challenge of reducing crime in our country.

It is apparent that the kind of criminal we are dealing with in the modern century is sophisticated, often times, smarter yet still with limited room to plot their criminal activities. What this means in essence is that as government, supported by all our partners we need to be ahead of the game.

It cannot be a foregone conclusion that one is facing petty criminals, who decide to rob at an instinct planning. We are dealing here with heartless individuals who would hijack a vehicle, to some extent, even kill the occupants. Such criminals amass wealth without ever having established businesses legitimately. This is the modern criminal, who must be defeated in a modern manner.

The critical questions become: what resources and skills are available to us? What information, communication and technology (ICT) systems are being utilized? Are we providing the relevant arsenal to police? What sort of tracking systems are we developing in dealing with motor vehicle hijackings?

To illustrate this point, when we announced the crime statistics, under the category theft out of or from motor vehicles, we experienced an increase of 4,8%. Our research confirmed that the use of remote control devices to prevent the automatic locking of doors, which has now become the second most frequently used modus operandi employed to commit theft out of/from motor vehicles, may have led to this increase. We are looking into this challenge and perhaps utilize this occasion to place a challenge to Tracker to work with us in this regard to curb this crime.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There are still serious challenges facing government when it comes to utilizing ICT systems, to make a dent on crime. Admittedly there is currently no clear coordination and integration of these systems to achieve synergy. These need to talk to each other.

You have examples where police are searching for the most dangerous criminal, when in fact he is already behind bars. This is straining to the police not only physically but also the cost elements and resources, which may not be readily available.

We need to leverage on systems such as our own War Rooms, which have proved to be effective in our endeavours of reducing crime. The most obvious success of the War Rooms is that improved, higher level linkage analysis and profiling of all criminals can be done expeditiously and smarter. This has been of major assistance with regard to provincial assistance to police stations, clustering investigation teams and focusing on crime series.

As government, we believe that improvements in both our detection and conviction rates are as significant contributing factors to this decline. In addition our approach to increasing police visibility and targeted visible police interventions, also contributes.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have now passed the Second-Hand Goods Act, 2009 (Act No 6 of 2009), and it is currently being implemented. This Act will help us to reduce the market and marketability of stolen goods. One of the prominent amendments is that while both the buyer and the seller of stolen goods would in the past get 10 months imprisonment, with the new Act one faces an imprisonment of up to 10 years.

We are intent on dealing a telling blow to this destructive activity, particularly in dealing with stolen vehicles. Consequently, we shall work to combine the current legislative measures with other campaigns, including communicating a strong message to communities not to buy stolen goods. We will need the ongoing support of partners such as Tracker as we work on these initiatives.

Whilst the recent crime statistics have indicated various declines in some of the categories, we are still not where we are supposed to be. More still needs to be done. This approach demands of us to develop an effective response that will categorically communicate the message that crime does not pay.

Part of the response in this regard is the strengthening of our intelligence capacity. This is an ongoing task which is informed by an appreciation that intelligence acts as a nerve centre of any policing system. Accordingly, we are going to ensure that intelligence forms an integral part of all aspects of policing.

We must unite against criminals, especially social justice in our country. What this means is that, all of us as patriots have a duty in ensuring a safer South Africa. Not only the police, but the entire nation. This is a duty to take action against criminals who harass our communities. They steal from the poor as well as the rich; they harass the youth as well as the elderly. They are our common enemies.

As Tracker and SAPS we must work even harder to collaborate in our crime-fighting efforts. One of the most common deterrents to crime is high police visibility. A fundamental advantage of high police visibility is that it increases the risk run by robbers, for example, decreasing the reaction time of the police or shifting the robbers’ operations to areas and time they are not familiar with.

As the police leadership we believe in the old adage that says: those who say it cannot be done must not distract those who are doing it. What this translates to is that, we require doers as partners not people who sit on the side and criticize our efforts. Our relationship with Tracker epitomizes the spirit of doing more, talking less.

That is why each year we are pleased to learn that through the Tracker-SAPS Bursary Fund, you continue to pay tribute to those members of the SAPS who have been lost in the line of duty. For many years now, Tracker has been running a bursary fund for the children of these officers.

To date, almost 70 of these children have been supported by the fund at a cost of more than R5-million. Of the 20 or so Alumni to date, the fund has already produced doctors, engineers, accountants and teachers. Tracker is currently funding some 42 students at tertiary institutions across South Africa. We applaud your good initiatives and further challenge other corporate to follow your good example.

In conclusion, as we declared 2012 the Year of the Detective, we want to see this declaration translate into a real dent on crime. Crime statistics tell us that we are in the right direction. The communities we serve share the notion that indeed the tide against crime is turning.

That is why on the occasion of our Budget Vote in Parliament when we announced this declaration, we said, quote: ‘the progress we have made, the victories we continue to score are reflective of the vision of the South African citizens’ commitment and determination to the cause of peace and social progress.’

Congratulations to all the recipients of the awards. Remember that you are the shields that must protect our nation against heartless criminals. May these awards inspire you to continue to serve the nation to the best of your abilities.

I thank you.