South Africa is working towards tackling crime from a more holistic angle, taking into account societal issues which influence the spread and intensity of crime, says Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko.
Tabling his department’s budget vote in the National Council of Provinces in Cape Town on Tuesday, Nhleko said that crime could not be divorced from the extreme poverty that many communities face.
For a more holistic approach to work, however, buy-in would be needed from communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), organs of state, business, research and tertiary institutions.
At the same time, Nhleko said, the police would continue to focus on reducing the number of serious crimes, cross-border and cyber crime, while working to stabilise public protests and enhance local police capability.
“We commit the [South Africa Police Service] to community engagement, listening and being one with the people that we serve. We are also obliged to fight crime and restore the citizens’ faith and trust in our law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system.”
As part of professionalising the police service, Nhleko said the recruitment processes for entry-level constables would be changed to ensure that only the best-suited candidates were hired, with new recruits being taken through rigorous testing for suitability before they start formal training.
The SAPS would also take its current members through rigorous sessions to ensure that they understood the police code of conduct.”Our approach on professionalising the police service will contribute to the zero-tolerance towards corruption and nepotism, and deliver the calibre of police official who will serve the people of this country with dignity and pride.”
In the course of the past year, Nhleko said, tghe police made 1 392 856 crime prevention arrests, including 818 322 arrests for serious crime and 574 534 for other crimes.
A further 1 218 arrests for serious organised crime, with a resultant 828 convictions, were reported by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, popularly known as the Hawks.
Convictions were secured that resulted in 1 110 life sentences imposed on 803 suspects for serious crimes such as murder, rape, business robbery, house robbery and armed robbery.
Nhleko said the country continued to be faced with challenges and called on all sectors of society to be part of the fight against crime and corruption.
“We would like to engage business around the issues of scrap metal and second-hand goods, its threat to the economic development of the country and their contribution in the fight against crime and corruption,” he said.