SA committed to SADC law and order maintenance, says Cele


Police Minister Bheki Cele has reiterated South Africa’s commitment to maintain law within its borders and actively play a part in combating any form of criminal activities associated with Southern Africa.

The Minister made the remarks during an address at the annual general meeting of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) on Thursday in Pretoria.

The event is attended by SADC safety and security ministers and their police chiefs.

Cele said the active participation of ministers in the SARPCCO agenda created a platform of massive growth in strategic matters of the business of policing, saying this would further yield positive results in the fight against transnational crime.

Working in silos will never produce fundamental change and progress, he said.

“We are encouraged that this fight against transnational organized crime is not ours alone. Equally encouraging is SARPCCO’s ambitions of improving policing relations between police chiefs of member States through the facilitation of investigations and joint cross-border operations.

SARPCCO’s ambition of harmonising legislation and other policing activities contributing to public order security in this region is also encouraging,” said Cele.

The Minister said it is evident that the region needs to walk and speak in unison.

“We, as [SADC], are in this together and we will combat drug and human trafficking syndicates, wildlife poaching and maritime crimes in all their manifestations. We ought to also have our focus firmly set on minimising cross-border vehicle theft, as well as the proliferation of arms that contribute to violence in our communities.

“These are just some of the crimes from a host of cross-border crimes that must and will be dealt with, through this regional partnership.”

South African law enforcement, Cele said, remains committed to its international and regional obligations aimed at combating lawlessness — whether at sea, land or in the air.

“Criminal gangs are becoming highly sophisticated and dangerous. The cross-border crime trade has increasingly become more diverse and sophisticated. The criminal networks we are trying to take down, enjoy unlimited deep pockets, which allow them to study our collective security vulnerabilities and lack of coordination and partnership.

“They use this information to advance and expand their criminal activities.”

The Minister said SARPCCO must change the game and “let these criminals know that they are now playing by our rules”.

“We can only change the game if we step up our intelligence, as criminals are adopting new and complicated forms of operations. The harmonisation of legislation should influence our counter operations and proactive programmes, if indeed we want to effect change.”

In his address, Cele also called for the expansion of INTERPOL policing capabilities beyond the National Central Bureau.

He said the effective utilisation of the INTERPOL policing capabilities is crucial to disseminate criminal data.

“This kind of information will equip and empower frontline officers at all ports of entry. The usage of INTERPOL databases, which contain [volumes of] information, can be shared amongst law enforcement officials mandated to prevent and combat international crime.

“At the same time, political oversight is crucial to the success of this policing partnership. The security ministers of the 16 [SADC] member countries should monitor the commitments made by our respective police chiefs, derived from the SARPCCO annual general meetings,” he said.