The police say they are determined to find and prosecute two self-declared criminals who told a local television station they planned to rob and kill soccer fas attending this June’s World Cup. Their minister also had hard words for the broadcaster.
In footage aired Friday the criminal duo stated that they intended to commit armed robberies as well as murder during the soccer event. They justified themselves by claiming their actions would be “repayment for past colonial wrongs.”
Police minister Nathi Mthethwa (PICTURED) said the “persistent and repeated airing of this footage by eTV [constituted] gratuitous sensationalism, [promoted] unlawfulness and [created] an unnecessary climate of fear and hysteria.
“It further provides an unwanted public platform for thugs and criminals to serve to undermine South Africa’s efforts to ensure a safe and secure 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament,” Mthethwa added. No public interest is served by such persistent broadcasts.”
Mthethwa also ordered an immediate investigation into the threats and urged the arrest of the men in terms of the Intimidation Act with immediate effect.
“Such utterances constitute acts of intimidation in that these scoundrels make it clear that they intend to rob and shoot, and if needs be, murder any law enforcement official or member of the
public who tries to stop them. This conduct constitutes a threat to the safety and security of members of the public and visiting tourists,” said Mthethwa in a statement.
“I am accordingly satisfied that the individuals in question have contravened section 1 (b) of the Intimidation Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. I have ordered
an immediate investigation.”
The utterances were moreover, made with an intent to instill fear through the threat of violence and murder against the police and law-abiding citizens. In addition, these statements serve to incite and encourage other persons to commit similar offences.
“In the circumstances I am satisfied that such individuals have also breached section 1 A(1) of the Intimidation Act which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment. I have also ordered an investigation into this violation,” added the minister.
One of the would-be World Cup criminals was also shown loading and unloading what the police said was likely a stolen firearm. Under current legislation any person found to be in possession of an illegal firearm faces imprisonment of up to 25 years.
The police statement also included comment from veteran journalist Yusuf Abramjee in his capacity as the head of Crime Line, a police-supported media initiative to encourage the public to report crime. “We are worried by the utterances made by these two self-confessed criminals on a national platform like eTV. Anyone with information that could assist in identifying them should please sms an anonymous tip off to 32211 or go www.crimeline.co.za. These two criminals … must therefore be brought to book and we appeal to anyone with information to please do so.”
eTV group news editor Ben Said says in reply it is e.News’ duty to inform the public. “While it is unsettling to hear criminals mock police, it remains a reality that the criminals we spoke to do not seem intimidated by the SAPS and their shoot-to-kill statements.”
“We believe that in a society such as ours it is a journalist’s duty to expose the criminal underworld, and in fact we need more of this type of journalism in South Africa, Said added. “It is regrettable in our opinion that the police mistake exposure of these criminals with glorification which we have not and will not do, and never would.”