The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemns Police Minister, Bheki Cele’s shameless use of crime statistics to score political points while bypassing Parliament. Today, he is announcing the quarterly crime statistics pertaining to the lockdown period without presenting it to Parliament first and being accountable to the Portfolio Committee on Police.
This year the annual crime statistics for 2019/20 were announced in July as opposed to September, which is when they have been released in the past.
The Portfolio Committee on Police has, for years, called on the Minister of Police to publish quarterly crime statistics to no avail. Suddenly, the Minister has, for the first time, decided to release quarterly crime statistics which conveniently fall within the lockdown period and come just two weeks after the premature announcement of last years crime statistics.
The timing of the release of the annual crime statistics and the Minister’s newfound commitment to release quarterly crime statistics exposes the Minister as a shameless political propagandist who is more serious about playing games with statistics than fighting crime.
When the annual crime statistics were released two weeks ago the Portfolio Committee on Police was unanimous in its condemnation of the Minister’s rushed approach having already scheduled a press conference immediately after the committee meeting, leaving only two hours for the Committee to interrogate the stats.
The Minister has once again demonstrated his flagrant disregard for Parliament, this time by completely bypassing the Committee in favour of the media spotlight to create the illusion that he is winning the war on crime.
The lockdown crime statistics are from a period when all South Africans were under ‘house arrest’ by an increasingly authoritarian government and are not a true reflection of the crime situation in South Africa. During this time we also witnessed unprecedented numbers of police officers and army personnel on our streets who, in many cases, ended up criminalising ordinarily law-abiding citizens by enforcing draconian regulations cooked up by a power-hungry ANC.
The Minister appears to believe that he can continue to fight crime by imposing curfews, banning alcohol, confiscating cigarettes and undermining the civil liberties of law-abiding South African citizens.
Today’s political stunt is designed to justify the Minister’s overzealous appetite for control over our freedoms as a crime-fighting strategy. It should serve as a stark warning to all of us.
It is now up to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Tina Joemat-Peterson, to demonstrate that the Committee is not just a rubber stamp for the Executive and demand accountability from this rogue Minister.
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