Gauteng police have no excuse to not be at a crime on time, as they now have resources, national police Commissioner Bheki Cele says. “That famous song that there are ‘no cars’ (to get to a crime scene), must stop…if there are no cars, there are shoes, you must walk …even those shoes are state shoes,” Cele said to a crowd of police officials at the handing over of 300 new police vehicles, in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.
This is the third lot of vehicles to be handed to Gauteng, which Cele said contributes to half of South Africa’s crime statistics, the South African Press Association reports. When a crime is called in, police must get to the scene efficiently, he said. “What do you expect a human being to do? That is why you are given your equipment …you must take your car, take your gun and you must go.”
Cele said visibility contributed to policing in a “big way”. “These cars belong to the South African population… (it is) – not for your groceries and taking your kids to school.” In September, 200 vehicles were handed to police in the province, and a further 150 at the start of the festive season. Officials will take delivery of 70 more cars, later this year, SAPA added. The cars were bought from R250 million vehicle budget allocated to Gauteng, and there use will be monitored by war rooms.
Yesterday’s lot included BMW’s, Golf GTI’s and other cars, which were specialised for rural policing. The high performance cars were especially assigned to police combating hijackers. “The cars we are giving you are serious stuff…”
“You need to act wherever you are,” he urged police, adding that the vehicles must be taken care of – by highlighting that 22 000 police cars were scrapped in the North West alone, due to crashes.
“[The] cars must be treated like your kids.” Police annual reports do not list the service’s vehicle holdings. Its financial statement for the year to March 2010 notes transport assets worth R7.662 billion, including acquisitions of R1.035 billion for that year and excluding disposals of R647 million. The state generally auctions off vehicles after five years of service, implying that the police has a need to replace a fifth of its fleet every year in the ordinary course of events.
According to SAPA, Cele also sent a message to criminals, namely that they have no place in society. “South Africa must get smaller everyday for criminals…You must squeeze this space for criminals and make South Africa completely unliveable for them.” He warned that corruption would not be tolerated within the force, but also commended police on their efforts.
“There are those few…who really spoil the work of thousands and thousands of police members…Its a very minute minority rubbishing our good name…Commanders, you must deal with them harshly, make them feel they don’t belong in this organisation,” he said, adding that Brazil, the next host of the Fifa Soccer World Cup, wanted its police to learn from South African officials.