In a reply to a DA parliamentary question, the South African Police Service (SAPS) revealed that it is unable to identify criminal acts involving tourists. This contrasts sharply with many countries around the world where illegal activities are routinely classified by police, law enforcement, and security agencies.
Government’s past rhetoric, particularly that of the SAPS ensuring the safety of tourists, appears to be mere words without action.
In his responses the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, highlighted that launching a search for tourism-related crime would “considerably and unnecessarily divert the SAPS’ resources away from vital operational activity.” Hence, “SAPS is unable to provide the requested statistics.”
This can only be interpreted in that crimes are not categorised and that the SAPS do not consider or understand the importance of doing so. Additionally, it appears that the SAPS do not consider this matter important or “urgent” enough. The fact that the replies indicate that the police are not prepared to “divert the resources of the SAPS” confirms this.
Crimes must be clearly categorized so that criminal incidents involving tourists, or any other grouping, are clearly identified. If this is not done, then how is it possible that the SAPS obtain and maintain statistics which in turn informs them of what crime prevention strategies in particular areas should be rolled out.
It is therefore clear that there is no strategy to combat crimes involving tourists.
The DA will be submitting additional questions to Minister Cele in this regard.
The SAPS, and government must realise the good impact that tourism and the travel industry have on our economy and job creation. This is too important to be left unattended.