Unabridged speech, Minister of Police to ISS policing conference

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Remarks by Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP at an Institute for Security Studies Conference on
“Policing in South Africa: 2010 and Beyond”

Kloofzicht Lodge, Muldersdrift, Gauteng
 
30 September 2010

Dr. Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director: Institute for Security Studies;

Dr. Johan Burger, Crime and Justice Programme at the Institute for Security Studies;

All SAPS Lieutenant Generals present;

Centre of Criminology at UCT representative, Prof Elrena van der Spuy;

School of Criminal Justice at UNISA representative, Prof Anthony Minnar;

General Secretary of POPCRU, Mr Nathi Theledi;

Representatives from all Civic Organisations, Academic Institutions and Government Departments present;

Distinguished Guests;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen;
 

We are greatly honoured to address this important conference this morning. Indeed this gathering comes at an opportune time, three weeks since we released to the nation, our national crime statistics. 
 

We view this conference as a reflection of strategies, multiplication of thoughts and platform for advancing our goals – which are all geared towards defeating the scourge of crime. We are of a firm view that such conferences are crucial in helping us shape our approach to policing.  We want to caution upfront against turning such gatherings into mere ‘talk shows’ but we shall expect tangible solutions and policy frameworks, post the conference. 
 

As government we appreciate efforts that have been made by many communities, institutions, researchers and various stakeholders throughout South Africa, in addressing various socio-economic challenges, including crime.  We recognize that to win the war against crime it is essential that government join hands with all these partners in forming concrete partnerships. 
 

Perhaps from the onset, we want to emphasize a point we have been making since assuming office: this government is committed to fighting crime, toughly and smartly.  Coupled with this is our unmovable stance on community policing philosophy.
 

Our crime statistics were in many ways corresponding with data gathered from independent sources such as the business sector.  This indicates our broad appreciation and recognition of the important role of such partners in supporting government to reduce crime. We remain optimistic that such relations will grow from strength to strength. 
 

In developing our strategy to tackle crime and give expression to government’s prioritization, we have adopted a multi facetted approach which includes:
 
·        The review of the criminal justice system

This review is borne out of a recognition of the inter relationship between all aspects of the criminal justice system (CJS).  This speaks to tightening the roles of all players, whether one looks at this value-chain from police, justice, corrections right up to home affairs.
 

It is for this reason that, as the CJS cluster, we have developed and signed a service delivery agreement which gives concrete expression to key areas of delivery required within this criminal justice review process.
 
·        Improving policing and systems of policing within the country

In improving policing and our policing systems, we have a clear vision of the kind of Police Service we envisage.  This then informs measures we are putting in place to achieve this vision.
 

In any policing system, our intelligence is a nerve centre and plays a crucial role.  It is for this reason we have prioritised the need to revitalise the intelligence component of SAPS and ensure the integration of intelligence into all aspects of policing.
 
·        A strengthened detective arm in fighting crime

Equally we continue to upskill and capacitate our detective services. This includes not only increasing the number of detectives but also the quality of those we recruit. The establishment of the Hawks to address organized crime and corruption has already yielded significant successes.  However, we must now put more energy into the areas of general detective service.
 
·        Capacitating our forensics – a key priority

Recently there have been a number of reports about our forensics capacity and problems related to this. We are well aware that we cannot strengthen our detective services without equally addressing our forensic capacity.
 
 Addressing our forensic capacity is not just about purchasing new equipment or employing new staff.  Such an approach would imply reinventing a broken wheel. Instead, we developed a clear plan with clear monitoring evaluation processes. This plan is looking at both international experiences as well as tangible outcomes to help us achieve our targets, over the next five years.  In this regard we have been engaging with local and international experts who are assisting us with the development of such a plan. 
 
·        A lasting security legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup

The successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup has shown us that in working smarter we can have a significant impact on safety and security.  The opportunity provided to us through this experience has laid a basis for us to begin to utilize both the experience and the infrastructure created as part of our general approach to fighting crime.
 

In understanding our vision for the type of Police Service we want to see, we have asked ourselves what type of police officer we need within SAPS?  Emphasis is now being placed not only on the type of people we are recruiting but also on our training. Over the next year we are going to see significant advances in both these areas.
 
·        Our triple-C approach

In achieving our vision we need to address service delivery within the police.  Lazy cops will have no place or space in the Force.  To achieve this we are now placing a concerted focus on what we have termed the triple-C approach. This methodology speaks to the following aspects:
 
1.     The need for greater command and control within the police. Part of command and control must address how we are managing our members at a provincial and national level.
 

Management is not only about issuing instructions but also managing the how these instructions are implemented.  It does not require a station commander to manage a police station, at a comfort of his laptop, from home! 
 

He or she must be on the ground, overseeing a station daily, being in touch with the communities, CPFs and importantly, leading by example. We are emphasizing the need for management to be held accountable and to reassert discipline within the police.
 
2.     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.  We shall be adopting an adage that says: an injury to one is an injury to all. We are in this together, not as individuals.
 
3.     The final C refers to both internal and external communication. We are improving communication within the police as well as how we communicate with the society we are policing.  Police must ensure that once they arrest criminals, communicate to society that such scoundrels are now behind bars.  Failure to do so, leads to anxiety and perceptions that police are ineffective, when in fact they are effective.
 
·        Tougher stance on crime and balanced approach

Over the last year we have emphasized the need to take a tough stance against criminals who have no respect for the lives of law-abiding citizens. However we have also emphasized that we will balance this approach with the need to ensure our police embrace our human rights culture.
 

We also want to see police officers who serve society with dedication, not in cahoots with criminals.  They must inspire the confidence of the ordinary persons on the street.  We want young people who are still undecided about their career choices, to want to become police officers, not to be dampened by corrupt police officers.  Ultimately we want a Police Service that upholds the Constitution at all material times.
 

In ensuring this balance we have emphasized the need for strong civilian oversight of the police. Over the last year we reconfigured attention to instill both institutional and organizational reform of the Independent Complaints Directorate and the Civilian Secretariat of Police. We recently introduced two pieces of legislation in Parliament and believe these will be addressed in detail later during this conference. 
 
·        Fostering partnerships with various stakeholders

Over the last year and after establishing a specific partnership unit within the Secretariat, we have sought to deepen our approach to partnership with communities.
 

We took this approach because we recognised that effective, contemporary crime prevention relies heavily on partnerships and multi-agency approaches. These approaches involve using different resources, skills and capacity, some of which may not necessarily be available within the police themselves.
 

They are crucial in also in helping us find ways of maximising our strength and at the same time minimizing our weaknesses. To a large degree, during the recent crime statistics release, we were satisfied to learn that in categories where crime has decreased, such partnerships were strong and effective.
 
·        Addressing the most vulnerable in society

A major responsibility of the police is to address the security needs of the most vulnerable in society.  Most of you should by now be aware of the reintroduction of the Family Violence, Child Protection, Sexual Offences (FCS) unit as well as our new focus on children through the Child Justice Act.
 
·        Protecting the rural communities

We now have in place a rural safety strategic plan, which gives impetus to our commitment to maintaining rural safety.  Over the last year we have been engaging different rural communities regarding safety issues.
 

Another aspect of service delivery is improving how our local police stations operate as well as ensuring that sector policing which has been on our agenda for some time, is effectively implemented.
 
·        Ridding our society of illegal firearms

Firearms are used in more than 70,% of aggravated robberies.  During 2008/2009 approximately 60% of all aggravated robberies were street/public robberies mainly occurring in CBD areas and mega-townships when people are robbed of their money or other valuables at gun or knifepoint.
 

To address this we have adopted an approach of working with both communities and firearm owners in finding a solution to address illegal firearms.  Equally we have intensified our seizure of such firearms through more focused visible policing.
 

In addressing loss of firearms we are cognisant of the weaknesses in our own management of firearms and have embarked on a number of initiatives to address this including the IBIS testing of all SAPS firearms.
 
·        Drug trafficking – a societal challenge that requires a societal response

Another area that requires our attention is the escalation in use and trafficking drugs. The Hawks have had considerable success in making arrests, yet our crime statistics revealed an increase in the amount of drugs seized. We are therefore cautious about these successes because they could also indicate an increase in the amount of drugs in circulation.
 

To address the problem we have recognized that no country in the world has ever succeeded in winning the war against drugs purely through policing alone. That is precisely why we continually advocate for effective partnerships with both governmental agencies and non-governmental structures. 

A call-to-action to researchers in the fight against crime

Institutions such as ISS have played a key role in providing sound inputs into our crime fighting strategies.  We want to challenge you to continue with your robust yet constructive analysis. 
 

On the one hand there is a current knowledge base from which we develop our policies and programmes. This is in the form of international best practices or various perspectives, from different institutions, including research institutions. While we adopt some of these trends internationally, it would also assist to tap into some of our local researchers.
 

The battle against crime cannot be separated from the war on want.  We also acknowledge that the majority of those involved in crime, are propelled by greed and an extreme sense of selfishness.  As researchers, this is one area we believe you can expand on, by providing sound analysis and empirical commentary to dispute misconceptions that only poor people commit crime.
 

Some of the areas we believe researchers can play a critical role in, include the critical issue around why crime gets displaced?  While we may understand that crime tends to be displaced in accordance with the security measures police put in place, surely there are other aspects which inform this trend? 
 

We are also aware that crime in South Africa is violent in nature.  Again we would expect of researchers to probe into this aspect, more so because as locally-based institutions, you would be better positioned to thoroughly explore this phenomenon.
 

In fact, we want to utilize this occasion to commend institutions such as ISS, who have in the last two years, led by example in providing objective analysis and input in helping defeat the scourge of crime.  You have indeed, desisted from polarizing crime and grand-standing but ensured you come up with valuable feedback and suggestions to government. 
 

We shall never expect you to be our praise singers, but where government did well, for example during the recent crime statistics announcement, you remained objective, honest and complimentary. 
 

Government has a will, a way and a vision

As we conclude, we want to say that we are under no illusion that there are quick fix solutions to policing challenges in South Africa.  Equally, we know that there is still much work to be done. 
 

We do believe that over the last year we have begun to put in place processes that are not only yielding some successes, but will also become the building blocks for the type of Police Service we are going to have going forward.

We challenge all in society and call for a pragmatic, robust yet tangible approach in the fight against crime.  This is indeed what gives one hope and profound confidence that South Africa has a bright future.
 



I thank you.