Insurance magnate offers SA a billion to fight crime


President Jacob Zuma is being offered R1 billion to help fight serious crime. The Sunday Tribune reports former president Thabo Mbeki’s government had rejected a similar offer from entrepreneur Douw Steyn.

The money will reportedly pay for helicopters, computers and hi-tech equipment to better equip the police, the paper said.

Steyn said he had been motivated to make the offer to Mbeki in part by two bad experiences that led to his sister emigrating. “I told him (Mbeki) I would sponsor a whole new approach to fighting crime. The first phase of a three-part programme would cost R1 billion and I would pay it.

“Mbeki told me I got it wrong. He said we didn’t have a problem with crime in this country – the problem was that we had a perception of crime.”

The paper added Steyn intended to repeat his offer to Zuma, who he has not met. “Crime is a major problem in this country. I am still prepared to help the government, but please don’t misread my motives. I don’t want glory. The plan is to do all this in collaboration with the police.”

“The intention is to give them (the police) hi-tech facilities, which they don’t really have now, to combat crime. They need to fight crime with special equipment, the best available. I propose to help fund a major assault on crime so that much of it can be eradicated.

Government spokesman Themba Maseko told the paper he was not aware of any meeting between Steyn and Mbeki, and referred comments to Mukoni Ratshitanga, the spokesman for the former president.

Ratshitanga said that if Mbeki had pronounced on the matter, it would have been in his capacity as leader of the country. He could not comment on the content of material he had not seen.

Graham Wright, deputy chief executive of Business Against Crime, said the organisation could not comment on information to which it had not been privy.

“As far as we know, the government has made the fight against crime one of its top five priorities.”

Meanwhile the Sunday Independent reported ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe as saying it would be “reckless” for President Jacob Zuma to appoint a replacement for axed prosecuting head Vusi Pikoli while the latter’s legal challenge against his dismissal is still pending.

He also cautioned against appointing a national police commissioner while the contract of Jackie Selebi, the incumbent who is on special leave pending a criminal case, has not ended.

He said Selebi could sue for unfair or constructive dismissal. Mantashe’s comments seemingly contradict Zuma’s denial that he was bound by an undertaking not to appoint Pikoli’s successor until the Pretoria High Court had ruled on Pikoli’s challenge to his dismissal.

Speaking to Independent Newspapers, Mantashe stated: “(Pikoli’s) case has not been concluded. It would be reckless (to appoint another national director of public prosecutions)”.

Zuma last week stated that it was incorrect that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe had agreed to wait until Pikoli’s challenge to his axing was finalised before he appointed a new national director.

Motlanthe had merely undertaken to give Pikoli’s lawyers notice should he move to fill the post, the presidency said in a statement.

Pikoli was suspended by Thabo Mbeki in September 2007, and finally fired by Motlanthe in December last year for being insensitive to issues of national security – despite the Ginwala Inquiry finding that he was fit and proper to hold office.

The former National Prosecuting Authority chief, who is adamant that Mbeki suspended him to protect Selebi from prosecution for corruption, believed he was not reinstated by Motlanthe to protect Zuma.

Motlanthe dismissed Pikoli’s claims as “insulting”.

Mantashe also said a police commissioner should not be appointed while Selebi was still there.
“The point I’m making is to take all those factors into account, that there is a police commissioner whose contract ends at the end of June (who has) not gone yet.
“There’s no way you can appoint a commissioner on top of him unless you want to attract being taken to court for unfair labour practice or constructive dismissal,” he said.

But Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa wants to appoint a commissioner as soon as possible. His haste also prompted Motlanthe, while still president, to caution against undermining the status of Selebi.