Mthethwa talks tough


Police minister Nathi Mthethwa wants to see police management adopt a more hands-on approach and to be held accountable as part of SAPS efforts to strengthen command and control within its structures.

“Management is not only about issuing instructions but also managing how these instructions are implemented. No station commander should manage a police station from his or her home,” he said.

Police management needed to be on the ground, commanding their forces, the minister said at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) International Crime and Criminal Justice Conference in Sandton on Thursday.

He also emphasised the need for management to be held accountable and to assert discipline. Mthethwa noted the importance of command and control – two issues that the ISS has been emphasising – saying it involved how police were managed, particularly at station level. “The need for greater co-ordination also requires our focus. All our different components of the police need to be working together and supporting each other.”

Parallel to the process of strengthening control and command were efforts to weed out corruption and criminality within police ranks. “Much as we are tough in dealing with criminality, we are doing the same in arresting and convicting police officers who are involved in crime,” he said.

Mthethwa challenged delegates at the conference to help delve into the character of criminals in South Africa. Researchers should explore why crime in South Africa was still violent in nature and also help understand the true nature of the criminals police encountered. Cooperation at local and global level was also vital if there was to be any progress in eradicating crime.
“Irrespective of how creative our plans are in dealing with crime, if they are not coordinated at a regional and international level, success is bound to be minimal. After all, crime is a scourge that does not respect borders, with crime syndicates that have made the entire globe the theatre of their operations,” Mthethwa said. He applauded researchers and academics for the work they had already done and called on them to continue working with police to fight crime.
“It should therefore not be a government-only responsibility to tackle crime. We believe your experiences as researchers enable you to better grasp and understand some of the key issues faced by police,” the minister added.

Head of the ISS Crime and Justice Programme, Gareth Newham, said South Africa’s crime problems were not unique and that a lot could be learnt from international experience. “Drawing upon international best-practices can prove invaluable for our own understanding of crime and possible new innovations in criminal justice. At the same time, we have much to share from our experience and the lessons we have learnt over the years,” he said.