Unabridged statement: Minister of Police: Operation Duty Calls


Remarks by Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP at the National Launch of the 2010/11 Operation Duty Calls

Festive Season Crime-Fighting Campaign

Maponya Mall, Soweto
04 November 2010

Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Maggie Sotyu;

National Police Commissioner, General Bheki Cele;

Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Ms Nonhlanhla Mazibuko;

All SAPS Lieutenant Generals, Management and Staff present;

Representatives from Business Against Crime, Religious Fraternity, CPFs, Youth Formations, PRIMEDIA, SHOUT, POPCRU and SAPU;

Community of Soweto and surrounding areas;

Distinguished Guests;

Members of the media;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is with a profound sense of humility to be at this historic township today.  For many decades ago, the name Soweto was negatively associated with criminality, robberies, rapes, hijackings and murder. 

Wittingly or unwittingly there were some in society who peddled these continuous negativity.  Such sentiments in turn, resulted in potential investments, economic development shunning this township.  Unfortunately this in turn created instability and compromised the safety of all law-abiding Sowetans.

Ensuring that all townships, cities and rural areas are safe

Today, here we are at this magnificent shopping mall, the epitome of success of this historic township.  It is not by coincidence that as the leadership and management of police, we decided to reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding South Africans at this venue.  We are excited to launch the national 2010/11 Operation Duty Calls Festive Season Crime-Fighting campaign.

Our purpose today is unambiguous: to rid Soweto and every other township, city and rural area of all evil and heartless scoundrels who for many decades traumatized these communities.  We are here to recommit ourselves in our efforts of giving impetus to government’s vision that, All South Africans Are and Feel Safe.

Effectively dealing with crime to change negative perceptions

Part of the challenge we deal with as the leadership and management of police, is around perception of crime.   In the main, this issue is directly proportional to our work as the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster.   Often times, this relates to the issue of conviction rate of criminals. 

Society whether knowingly or perhaps as a result of ignorance, often put the blame on police whereas at times, it is the very same society which does not help the cause.  After the criminal justice review, you would remember that when you talk of crime reported in South Africa that included what happened normally on a Friday. 

For instance you have people reporting crime, most related to social crime as it were.  Around Sunday you have about 60% of those reported cases withdrawn by the victims, for one reason or the other.  When that happens our statistics do not take that withdrawal on board, it remains a crime statistic.

They have been recorded or they have been reported and are taken as such.  However for purposes of statistics we have to reflect that to the community, to the South African public that this is what we have reported during the past years.

New approach, new thinking and a harsher stance 

It is an undeniable reality that one of the impending negativities associated with townships such as Soweto, is the scourge of crime.  As government enjoined by this community, we vowed that things could not be left to be as they were.  We had to reclaim our streets.  We spoke about a new approach, new thinking and a harsher stance.

We are drawing a reference to the unjust socio-economic challenges facing not only Soweto, but many other townships across our country that suffered the harshest scars of crime.  These include Kwa-Mashu, Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plein to mention but a few.  Geographically-apart and faced with different challenges, yet the common denominator or impeding factors would include drug abuse, murder, rape and hijackings incidents.

Role of business in reducing crime – highly commendable

We commend business stalwarts such as Mr Richard Maponya along with his business associates, who against all odds still believed that a business can flourish in Soweto.  Such boldness is a further reminder to us as the police leadership and management that we need to fast-track and redouble our crime-fighting approaches. 

We are further reminded that just like business; police in Soweto must develop and implement best policing models for other townships to emulate.  There is therefore no better time to put such ideas and initiatives into action, than beginning with this year’s festive season.

This business approach is acutely intertwined with our policing philosophy. This relates to deploying the right resources, at the right time and place coupled with the right caliber of police officers.  Indeed it is increasingly becoming clear that unless we can deploy correctly we shall not win this war.  After all we have the machinery and there is certainly no excuse why we would fail.

Business-Police Partnership ensured safer malls in 2009

We challenge all the major corporations to invest in businesses that are situated in townships.  It is an undisputable fact that if crime had reached extreme levels in this and many townships across the country, no right-thinking business investor would have invested at this beautiful, safe and secure shopping mall. 

Furthermore, we are convinced no tourist would have shopped or walked around the streets of Soweto if crime was still the order of the day.  Irrespective of what some prophets of doom may say, Soweto is much safer than it was compared to some years back.

The safety and security at shopping malls last year and during this year were not sporadic or coincidental occurrences.  Neither was this safety achieved as a result of some criminals taking ‘leave’ during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as some pessimists falsely implied. 

The reality is that police, supported by communities, business and other role-players worked hard and smart.  These reductions in crime can be attributed to amongst others proper policing strategies.  A point in case is that tight monitoring of local shebeens during festive seasons, which have significant bearings on some of the atrocious crimes, were carried out by police.

Activating and utilizing lessons learnt from 2010 FIFA World Cup

During last year’s operations, coupled by the experiences acquired during the recent 2010 FIFA World Cup, we learnt valuable lessons which will be put into good practice this festive season.  We have already active the NATJOC approaches, which was the nucleus of our success during the World Cup. 

We shall strive to ensure that this year we have fewer incidents of crime generally. Through the operations and roadblocks we conducted in and around Johannesburg this morning, society can expect more of such operations. 

Multi-faceted approach with other Government Departments

As the Force, supported by other departments such as Home Affairs, SARS, Transport, we will be on the ground.  So law-breaking fanatics should take this as a friendly warning because when we find you on the wrong side, there will not be friendly.  We are in full swing and will remain hard on any wrongdoing, irrespective of whoever is involved. 

Police will be executing high-density operations while maintaining visibility at all hotspots.  Such operations are zooming on aggravated robberies, including house robberies, business robberies, robbery of cash in transit, vehicle hijackings as well as attacks on ATMs. 

We are also paying focusing on social crime-prevention operations dealing with contact crimes such as assault, murder, rape and crimes against women and children.  In this regard we will not just raise awareness about crimes at shopping malls and other public frequented areas during the festive season. 

Police will be physically present to deal with any criminal with evil motives.  We will also increase high visibility patrols at all tourist destinations especially along the coastal cities. 

Building and capacitating our police stations

One of this government’s approaches in dealing with crime, will be on ensuring that we build police stations in areas where, for whatever reason, were neglected in the past.  It is unacceptable for society to travel distances to report criminals.  It is equally unacceptable that in cases where they do reach these police stations, they then discover that resources are pathetic.  What is even more incensing is to experience the worst kind of service from ill-disciplined, uncaring and lazy police officers. 

In defeating this scourge, we shall ensure that those police stations that are around townships are correctly capacitated not only with committed police, but improved systems and operational tools.

The improvement of police stations across the country, particularly in townships and rural areas, will intensify our resolve to win the war on crime.  It will further make a categorical statement that no longer would we allow communities to walk long distances to lodge a complaint or report any criminal activity. 

While this leadership and management are at all times willing to engage each and every member in terms of their career pathing, issues related to their wellbeing – what we are not prepared to condone is pure laziness.  We are certain even our unions would not tolerate such mediocre mentality from their members.

Strengthening our partnerships with communities

In taking the fight to the criminals, the communities of Soweto in partnership with police have a duty to reclaim our streets.  We require no permission from criminals to walk tall in our streets. 

Young girls from Zola to Meadowlands must be able to walk at night without fear of being raped.  Whether the criminals try to hide behind the book of the law or the bullet, we shall find them.

Criminals have for all intents and purposes, defined themselves as outcasts in the community and as such they must be treated. To be where we are, we have waged many battles and will have to fight many more to achieve our peaceful and prosperous future.

Warning: criminals have nowhere to run

This festive season approach is not just about words, but tangible actions.  Today’s launch of this national festive operation right here Soweto further confirms our promise of a government-led, action-orientated approach where we tackle criminals head-on, curb their plans and destroy their syndicates. 

In other words, if criminals rob and hide anywhere we are at every corner.  If they target shoppers at Maponya Mall, we are waiting in and outside.  If they intend to abuse our women and children, we will nip their actions in the bud with vigour.  In essence, we have all their tricky ways covered.

Working Together and Smarter We Can Do More To Defeat Crime

The approach of working in silos with SAPS will be a thing of the past.  We are now creating synergy and ensuring that information is optimally utilized.  We believe this will go a long way in yielding considerable success in fighting crime, nationally and provincially.

As we had done last year, we shall be utilizing some of our innovations such as War Rooms.  We intend to ensure all provinces utilize these going forward.  When criminal cases go to court, police will get a criminal’s comprehensive profile within 48 hours. 

However, we need to emphasize that such technology can only have the desired impact if communities continue to work with us.  Your tip-offs and partnership with police will still enhance our work. 

Maintaining transparency through public information

In dealing with this scourge, particularly during this time, we shall ensure that we still continue to share with the public crime information on an ongoing basis.  This after all, is an important part of the partnership between police and the public on which effective crime control depends, especially at the community level. 

Our own research has shown that the ability of police to respond to crime depends on having accurate information and most of that information comes initially from the public. The most effective way for the police to assure themselves of the reliability of their information is by sharing it with the public as a means of testing its validity.

The public, in turn needs this information in order to manage personal and family crime risks.  A great deal of crime prevention advice is available but the information required in deciding what preventative action to take is less readily available. The importance of community policing forums cannot be overemphasized.

Entrenching and respecting the Constitution

Government has laws which must be respected without fail, all the time.  We need to ensure that our laws favour citizens but deprive and deal a blow to criminals.  While the rights of all citizens need to be protected as entrenched in our Constitution, rights of criminals must not supersede those of law-abiding citizens.

We also need to advocate that society must not take the law into their hands.  Your task is to report these criminals to the police.  Police must then take over and do the right thing: make life very, very difficult for these scoundrels. 

A clarion call to all South Africans to unite against crime

It is within this context that today we reiterate our call to all South Africans to partner with the police in the fight against crime.  We hold a firm belief that our men and women in blue will never rest in their mission of ensuring our citizens’ safety. 

We will hunt those heartless criminals with vigour and determination until we find them.  This is our resolve.  This is our commitment.

Fighting Crime – It Begins With Me.

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]

Website: www.saps.gov.za