Minister Cele must investigate reports of use of live ammunition during the Mahikeng protest

The DA urges the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, to thoroughly investigate the extremely concerning reports of the use of live ammunition by South African Police Services (SAPS) in Mahikeng during a standoff between the police and residents following the continuous service delivery protests.

Minister Cele must immediately get to the bottom of this and establish if these reports are true and if so, on whose instruction did the police use live ammunition on the protesting community members.

This is greatly concerning if it is indeed true and it must be addressed immediately. The use of live ammunition to disperse a protesting crowd is not acceptable and is indicative of poor training, and likely inadequate provision of appropriate ammunition, i.e. under-equipping, of the SAPS members whose mandate is to keep South Africans safe.

The fact is this protest reflects the ANC’s failure to get rid of likely compromised leaders in their ranks. These protests are against Premier Supra Mahumapelo who is facing allegations of fraud and corruption.

Residents’ rights to protest should not be trampled and we urge residents to do so within the confines of the law and to not delegitimise their cause by descending into property destruction and violence.

It is apparent that the ANC has failed Mahikeng residents by not ensuring clean governance and service delivery to our people.

The DA has consistently called for a SAPS leadership overhaul and the professionalisation and sufficient training of the police personnel to adequately fight the unacceptably high levels of crimes and ensure safety for all South Africans.

Minister Cele must explain how SAPS members get simple warnings for rape and murder

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman, to request that he urgently summon the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, to explain how it is possible that South African Police Service (SAPS) members who have been found guilty of rape or murder merely receive written or verbal warnings or fines.

This astounding information has been revealed by a report of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) submitted to Parliament.

A total of 180 SAPS members were found guilty in disciplinary hearings by SAPS on various misconduct charges and the penalties awarded for serious charges such as murder and rape ranged from written and verbal warnings, fines and corrective counselling.

Police members who have been found guilty of rape or murder have no place in the SAPS and must be dismissed immediately.

This is absolutely shocking and is a direct indictment on Minister Cele and the entire ANC government for failing to professionalise the SAPS so that they can protect the most vulnerable in our society.

The South African public already fear for their lives on a daily basis. This report seems to indicate that we have as much to fear from the rotten apples acting with impunity in the law enforcement department that is supposed to keep us safe.

The report further revealed that in places such as Kwanyamazane, Watervalboven and Greylingstad in the Mpumalanga province, SAPS members only received final written warnings and a R500 fine complaints for murder. In Mhala, SAPS members received written warnings after being found guilty of rape.

As concerning is that fact that reports of torture by  police to IPID has increased by 43% from the 2016/17 to 2017/18. This is indicative of the disdain with which some SAPS members view the lives and rights of those they are entrusted to protect.

This is entirely unacceptable and reiterates the DA’s call for a comprehensive  overhaul of SAPS leadership. If we have as much to fear from the SAPS as we do from criminals, there is no hope of bringing down the already unacceptability high levels of violent crime in our country.

What is urgently needed is a professional and properly resourced police service whose only goal is to ensure safe streets and safe homes for all South Africans.

An effective and professional SAPS must be Minister Cele’s priority. If he is not up to the task, he must step aside for someone who will not allow for murderers and rapists to be entrusted with protecting the people of our country.

Rural safety units would stop the attacks

The DA is alarmed by the six farm attacks which have occurred in the last 72 hours.

Attacks on anyone who lives on or visits a farm – have increased once again.  The attacks are carefully planned, and without exception include violence, and frequently torture of the most horrific kinds.  Even children are mercilessly targeted.

Farmers feed our nation and it is clear that the South African Police Service (SAPS) Rural Safety Strategy is a dismal failure.  Police today rely heavily on private helicopters or fixed wings to get them to the site of the attacks. Yet the SAPS has a R86-billion budget.

The reason the much-vaunted Strategy has failed is because the Police Stations in the most hard hit rural areas, are under-staffed and under-resourced.  The strategy needs to be overhauled.

Our farmers and farm workers do not deserve to live under siege.

In the 2016/17 financial year, South Africa experienced 52 murders per day. Of course this is totally unacceptable.  It is a figure one might expect from a country at war.

The DA has long called for the reintroduction of specialised units within the SAPS as is the international best practice most likely to curb the rise of violent crime. This would include specific units to tackle rural safety.

The Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, must show decisive leadership and deal with the high crime rate, devising ways and means by which our most vulnerable members, such as women, children, and those living in deep rural areas, will be adequately protected.

The increased attacks on our farming communities continue unabated due to lack of leadership by the SAPS and the ANC government.

The DA calls on Cele to urgently prioritise the introduction of specialised units, including specifically a well-resourced and highly trained national rural safety unit, and we demand that he takes a strong line against the ongoing and criminal attacks on our farming communities.  No one in South Africa should fear torture, rape and death.

Up to 1 in 10 victims of sexual violence lack victim friendly interviewing rooms in 2016/17

This statement follows an oversight visits to Camperdown and Mpophomeni Police Stations by DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP , DA KZN Spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison, Dr Rishigen Viranna MPL and DA KZN DAWN Leader, Shehana Kajee. Please find soundbites in English and IsiZulu by Mr Mbhele.

Following our parliamentary reply which revealed the number of SAPS stations without Victim Friendly Rooms (VFR), the DA has determined that up to 1 in 10 victims of sexual violence were not interviewed in a victim friendly room during the 2016/17 reporting year.

According to the reply, a total of 189 police stations across the country do not have a dedicated victim friendly room. When these stations are compared against the 2016/17 crime statistics, it becomes apparent that about 3587 sexual offences were reported at these stations.

The worst-performing provinces in this regard were Kwazulu-Natal, at 10.34% of cases, the Eastern Cape at 14.31%, and the Free State at 14.62% – slightly more than 1 in 10 victims.

Today, the DA conducted an oversight visit to Camperdown and Mphophomeni SAPS stations, to establish what facilities they have available for the interviewing of victims of sexual offences.

At the Camperdown police station, victims of sexual offences are interviewed in a repurposed office referred to as a “trauma room” but this room is not ideally suited and its isolation from the rest of the building could exacerbate the anxiety and emotional vulnerability of victims in the immediate aftermath of sexual assault.

The station also suffers from severe personnel shortages, with almost 75 projected vacancies. There should ideally be 8 personnel to a shift, but at present the station can only put 5-6 personnel members per shift. Three of the station’s five vehicles have also been boarded, so they are left with two vehicles to cover two sectors with up to 100 000 people.

But at the Mpophomeni police station, there is no victim friendly room available, and the police station depends on the availability of office space from a nearby NGO.  The closest FCS unit is based in Howick and is grossly under-staffed, with only three members. The station management admits that they only have resources to effectively patrol one of the two sectors under their control at any given time.

The statistics, taken together with the information obtained during our oversight visit, demonstrate how the entire SAPS leadership crisis continues to fail our people, especially victims of rape, due to the under-resourced and under-qualified police service.

This is an indictment on the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, who must ensure that our police stations have the required equipment and trained personnel to process all reported cases of sexual violence.  The DA is adamant that the localisation of resources and management authority to station level is now vital in order to empower station management who prove themselves competent to control their resources to be responsive to their local needs.

Victims of sexual violence and abuse deserve to be treated with the utmost care and dignity. Properly resourced police stations and specialised training for police personnel dealing with victims of sexual violence are key to ensuring this.

Re-victimisation of two sexually assaulted children at the hands of SAPS necessitates urgent intervention by Minister Cele

Disturbing media reports that two children were sexually assaulted by a South African Police Service (SAPS) forensic investigator reiterate the DA’s call to urgently root out convicted and compromised police members at Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units.
The grade three pupils from AB Xuma Primary in Johannesburg were being interviewed by the investigator over their experience of sexual abuse by a school guard last year when the man allegedly abused them.
This is an example of how victims of sexual violence, especially children, can get re-victimised when those entrusted with the sole responsibility of helping victims of rape and violence are actual perpetrators themselves.
In a reply to our parliamentary question, the DA revealed that 57 police members working in the FCS units have criminal records themselves.
These are patently not the kind of people who should be working with children and other victims of domestic or sexual violence.
It is quite clear from the questionable conduct of these members that they cannot be entrusted with the responsibility of addressing the extremely high levels of violence against women and children.
Police Minister, Bheki Cele, committed in the National Assembly last week Wednesday that he would be following up on this serious issue when the DA asked what his plan of action was about these compromised members.
The DA has identified the police stations where these members work in the FCS units and in the coming weeks will be conducting oversight visits to the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, among other provinces, to get to the bottom of these serious issues.
Minister Cele must now commit to a date by when these individuals will be removed from the system for good.
The point is that none of these 57 members should be in contact with victims of family violence at all.
This is an indictment on both the Minister and the entire SAPS leadership. This necessitates urgent intervention and decisive action by Minister Cele.
The DA will hold Minister Cele to account to root out these officers and to replace them with untainted individuals who will diligently bring justice to the victims and survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Minister Cele must repeal Regulation 45 of SAPS Employment Regulation, following revelation of misuse

Police Minister Bheki Cele must urgently repeal Regulation 45(1)(n) of the SAPS Employment Regulations. This follows a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Police which revealed that National Police Commissioner (NPC) Khehla Sitole is using this regulation to create his own private office, as his predecessors in the role had also done.
It is seriously concerning that, in a period of 5 months, Sitole has already promoted 15 SAPS members using this regulation. Thirteen of the promoted officers appear to be working in his private office now, of which at least fiveseem to be bodyguards.
In the past, previous National Police Commissioners have abused Regulation 45, to flout due processes in attempts to appoint their cronies for self-serving reasons other than to fight crime.
It would be incredibly disappointing if the current NPC continues with this tradition, with Minister Cele’s agreement.
The Regulation provides that the National Commissioner – with the concurrence of the Minister – may promote an employee into a post without advertising the post, and without following the selection process, if the National Commissioner is satisfied that:

  • the employee qualifies in all aspects for the post;
  • there are exceptional circumstances that warrant the deviation from the said sub regulation; and
  • such deviation is in the interest of Service.

It is now evident that previous and current NPCs have abused this regulation, seemingly to appoint individuals who are not fit-for-purpose. This has contributed to the current leadership crisis within the SAPS where nepotism and cronyism outweighs fighting high levels of crime and ensuring the safety of South Africans.
Minister Cele must seriously consider this matter and other various issues pertaining the overall SAPS leadership and its ability to fight crime in the country.
Only men and women who are committed and competent to fight crime in this country should be appointed to carry out this mandate and not individuals with ulterior motives.
 

Minister Bheki Cele’s appointment is a sham

The DA is disappointed by the entirely irrational appointment of Bheki Cele as Police Minister. His tenure as National Police Commissioner was nothing short of shambolic and all indications are that his tenure as Minister will be more of the same.
It is a shame that such an irresponsible figure, who famously and recklessly instructed the police to be trigger-happy and “Shoot to Kill” has now been put in charge of ensuring the SAPS is a responsive and professional police service.
For years, the DA has highlighted how vital good SAPS leadership is but Minister Cele’s blemished track record of inflammatory statements and allegations of corruption shows how detached the ANC government is from our people’s plight.
Minister Cele’s chequered past quite evidently renders him unfit to head up the fight against the unacceptably high levels of crime in South Africa.
In 2012, a three-person panel unanimously recommended that he should be fired as National Police Commissioner for his role in the awarding of R1.7-billion lease agreements for police accommodation.
Although evidence fell short of positively proving corruption, the panel ruled that Cele was dishonest about his relationship with businessman Roux Shabangu and that he acted with a clear undeclared conflict of interest.
Minister Cele was also supporter of former President Jacob Zuma during his corruption trial about the spy tapes which was later dropped. Cele only became anti-Zuma following his sacking as National Police Commissioner.
This conduct demonstrates characteristics of an individual who cannot be trusted to serve the people of our country.
South Africans deserve SAPS leadership which will put their safety first above their own interests. With Minister Cele at the helm, the shambolic state of the SAPS will only continue to deteriorate and the ultimate victims will be the hundreds of thousands of South Africans, including SAPS members, who will fall victim to crime.

DA condemns Fikile Mbalula’s comments encouraging police brutality and impunity

The DA strongly condemns comments made by Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, at the Pretoria West Police Academy today. Addressing the police’s specialised Tactical Response Team, Mbalula both encouraged police brutality and assured those in attendance that he would help them avoid the repercussions.
Mbalula is quoted as saying: “We must squeeze them. When they’ve got balls‚ we must crush them.” He is also encouraged impunity by saying: “Even if you do not have a warrant of arrest‚ slap them. Break the law progressively and let me worry about court cases.”
It is deeply concerning and irresponsible for the minister tasked with overseeing the South African Police Service (SAPS) to encourage impunity, especially when addressing SAPS personnel in his official capacity.
Mbalula is the latest Police Minister to encourage violent conduct and follows in the footsteps of his disgraced predecessors, Susan Shabangu and Bheki Cele, both of whom promoted violence during their tenure.
His comments are even more disgraceful considering the findings contained in StatsSA’s Victims of Crime Survey, released earlier this week, which pointed to a distinct distrust of the SAPS by victims of crime.
The DA calls on Mbalula to apologise for his inappropriate, juvenile comments and demand that he takes a strong line against police brutality.