Unabridged speech, Minister of Police at the Eastern Cape Launch of the 2010/11 Operation Duty Calls


Remarks by Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP at the Eastern Cape Launch of the 2010/11 Operation Duty Calls Festive Season Crime-Fighting Campaign

Mthatha Plaza, Mthatha, Eastern Cape
10 December 2010

MEC for Human Settlements and Safety, Ms Helen August-Sauls;

Mayor of King Sabatha Dalindyebo District Municipality, Councilor S Mlamli;

All Traditional Leaders present;

All SAPS Lieutenant Generals, Management and Staff present;

Representatives from Business Against Crime South Africa, SAPU, POPCRU, CPF, UNITRA Radio and ESKOM; 

Community of Mthatha and surrounding areas;

Distinguished Guests;

Members of the media;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Today marks the end of the government-led 16 days campaign of no violence against women and children.  It is perhaps befitting that as we mark the end of this campaign here in Mthatha; that we reaffirm our commitment as police to go beyond the call of duty in safeguarding society. 

To us, the campaign of protecting society and fighting crime must be a 24/7 duty.  We must fight this scourge toughly and smartly whenever and whenever we encounter it.  Our presence today is to make a clarion call to all law-abiding citizens of Mthatha and the entire Eastern Cape to double our efforts and ensure we give criminals a miserable festive season.

Crime does not simply disappear; we must all as government, communities and businesses, create conditions that will make crime disappear.  As we began with the national launch a month ago in Soweto, we realized a general consensus amongst all South Africans that they shall support us in making this a jolly-good festive season.  That to us is certainly heartening and encouraging.

But our starting point in dealing a blow to crime is premised on two considerations. Firstly, that the battle against crime cannot be separated from the war on want, hence government has prioritized both these challenges and are being addressed holistically.  Secondly, that the deviant activities of a few rotten apples in our midst, whether within the Force or in society, should not underscore our efforts.

Our police in the Eastern Cape, like many provinces we visited over that past weeks, have done tremendously well in cracking the backbone of criminality.  Since the 18th October till 8th December 2010, police here have arrested in total 19 156 criminals.  These include  414 for rape, 301 for murder and 147 for aggravated robbery.

The number of traffic fines issued were a massive 15 777 and this is indeed signifies a serious challenge on our roads.  Police also recovered 117 stolen vehicles while arresting 710 for drunk and driving cases.  In addition 3 274 illegal firearms were recovered and 569 stolen live stock recovered.

We are also pleased to note that on Tuesday morning the Hawks arrested two robbers and killed another when they attempted to rob a Coin Security vehicle collecting cash in Lusikisiki.  Our elite unit supported by the National Intervention Unit foiled and recovered R35 million. 

Again, yesterday morning the Hawks in Port Elizabeth swooped on 22 homes and arrested 15 men and 7 women for fraud.  These fraudsters were defrauding the Road Accident Fund by submitting fraudulent claims, about accidents that actually never happened.  We commend our members for not only saving businesses but also saving lives of innocent citizens.  This is the kind of operations we shall see during this festive and beyond.

As you can see, those skeptics or scoundrels who thought our operations are mere lip-services, they had been forewarned.  Our presence at this shopping centre today is to urge you as communities, to partner with police not with criminals.  Ours must be a concerted effort that deals a blow to all criminality, in whatever form it manifests itself.   

We also know that many young people in South Africa, including in Mthatha, are hooked on drugs.  Drugs are a global challenge and there is a not global solution.  What happens is that each country develops its own drug control, which tends to focus on the drug-pushers but still leaves the kingpins.  As government and police ours is a war targeted towards the source of these drugs.  We urge you to help police in identifying these drug kingpins to be exposed and police will have to act swiftly to apprehend these thugs.

We take this time to commend the local Mthatha businesses for your various practical interventions in working with police.  Through our engagement with various business sectors across the country, a number of key areas have been identified that could assist us in dealing with this form of crime.  The first relates to the type of businesses being targeted. It has become clear that while there have been slight increases in robberies targeting formal organized business, the biggest increase has been in the small business sector, commonly known as spaza shops.

To address business robberies more generally we are working towards consolidating our partnership with business. This partnership seeks to jointly improve our efforts through enhanced police and business crime prevention measures and improving alignment between the business sector and government.  In strengthening our fight against crime we have also identified the need to improve our information and intelligence gathering.  We are also ensuring that this information is used by the police to respond to the challenges facing the area.

While we shall be practically on the ground, we also need to ensure that we close all loopholes that may allow criminals space to escape.  That is why as government we are also looking at what legislative changes that needed to be implemented.  One of the critical areas we shall be tightening is around domestic violence especially rape.

To address this, one of the legislative changes being considered which speaks to this is section 26 of the Criminal Procedure Act.  This section specifically provides police the right to enter private property especially in cases involving domestic violence.  We need to ensure that our laws favour citizens and deprive and deal a blow to criminals.  Whilst the rights of citizens need to be protected as entrenched in our Constitution victims of domestic violence must be able to receive support, assistance and relief.

As we mentioned during our provincial anti-crime festive operations, government has promulgated the Second Hand Goods Act which criminalises the buyer and the seller of stolen goods.  We therefore call upon society to refrain from buying stolen goods.  Ningathengi ku majita ngoba uma umlilo wamaphoyisa ushisa, nawe ungumthengi uzosha.  Particularly during this festive season, police will double their efforts in search and seizures and arresting those who are found in possession of such. 

Once again, as the leadership and management of police we want to warn criminals not to try and emulate ‘heroic acts from movies’ by shooting at police.  This is a friendly warning but should they not dare heed it, we shall not be friendly.  Criminals must also not try to hide behind the book of the law or human rights, because there is no Constitution that gives criminals rights to shoot at police. 

The right of criminals cannot supersede rights of law-abiding citizens.  No one is going to stand on our way towards the realization of peace, security and comfort.  Government is working around the clock in tightening up the whole criminal justice chain.

We warn any would-be criminals in East London, Motherwell, Mthatha, Qunu, Butterworth or any other area around Eastern Cape, that we will be everywhere.  We will cover each space, from the remotest of areas to the cities.  In essence, we will aggressively increase the number of police on patrol at malls, taxi ranks, recreational areas as well as identified key ‘hot spots.’  Operations will focus on house and business robberies, robbery of cash-in-transits as well as vehicle hijackings. 

We are also focusing on social crime-prevention ooperations dealing with contact crimes like assault, murder, rape and crimes especially against women and children.  High police visibility will be a central aspect to policing during this festive season. 

We have the resources, we have the personnel and more importantly, we have the commitment of our police officers.  Again this would talk to how, when and where we deploy our resources.  We are relooking at ensuring we spread our resources evenly and effectively.  This after all, is a new way of doing things, innovatively and speedily.

It is apparent to all of us that the police alone cannot win the fight against crime.  Criminals do not live in isolation from communities. Much as they are our friends, relatives and neighbours, when they commit crime, we all have a duty to expose them. 

We cannot allow people with lazy minds who are not willing to work hard, to accumulate wealth through robbing and murdering law-abiding citizens.  We cannot allow a tiny few to amass resources they do not rightly deserve.  We shall not tolerate scoundrels to flaunt blood diamonds and blood money during this festive season.

Government shall not hesitate to punish anyone breaking the law while hiding under the banner of ‘ukuphanda.’  We also urge those who witness such evil actions to report them to the police.   As we demonstrated during these festive season operations, we shall ensure that those who rob, rape and murder, are apprehended and the criminal justice system will ensure they rot in jail.

We call on our communities, beginning here with the Mthatha community, to work with the law enforcement agencies to identify these thugs.  A multi-pronged approach in the fight against crime, underpinned by the involvement of the communities we serve – is the only and most effective solution to eradicating crime. 

Fighting Crime – It Begins With Me.  Ukulwisa Ubugebengu – Kuqala Kimina.

I thank you.

Zweli Mnisi

Chief Director: Communications/Spokesperson

Ministry of Police

Republic of South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)12 393 4341 & +27 (0)21 467 7007

Fax: +27 (0)12 393 2833 & +27 (0)21 467 7033

Mobile: +27 (0)82 045 4024

Email: [email protected]