Future is Rosy ~ Nqakula in Parliament

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Future is Rosy ~ Nqakula in Parliament

Postby Martin_tu » Mon, 2006-10-02 22:55

JUSTICE, CRIME PREVENTION AND SECURITY CLUSTER MEDIA BRIEFING 27 September 2006
RELEASE OF CRIME STATISTICS AND SAPS ANNUAL REPORT BY MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY

Documents handed out:

South African Police Service Annual Report 205/20006 – Minister Charles Nqakula’s briefing
Annual Report of the South African Police Service for 2005/2006 available at www.saps.gov.za
SAPS Annual Report: 2005/2006 Executive Summary
Crime Situation in South Africa (2005/06)
Some programme highlights that are contributing to safety and security for all (not presented)
Business Against Crime: Release of the SAPS Annual Report and Crime Trends and Statistics (not presented)
Business Against Crime: Media Release (not presented)

SUMMARY
Safety and Security Assistant Commissioner, Dr Chris De Kock, briefed the media on how crime statistics were collected, analysed and interpreted and explained that, with the resources available and in the interest of reliability, statistics were released on an annual basis.

Senior Superintendent Nkoshilo Seimela went through some of the statistics for contact crimes, which despite not having met the targeted 7-10% reduction, all showed a reduction from the previous year.

Minister Charles Nqakula, accompanied by his Deputy Minister Ms Shabangu and National Commissioner Jackie Selebi, touched on issues related to organised crime, overcrowding and transformation of the judiciary. He explained that since July 2006 the police had cracked down on serious and violent crime and employed a strategy of increased visibility, mounting their cordon-and-search operations as well as roadblocks. Following President Thabo Mbeki’s Big Business Working Group meeting, which was held in August a meeting would shortly be held with representatives from the entire business sector and the relevant cabinet ministers. They would discuss possible partnerships to improve crime fighting. He was pleased that more rape and indecent assault victims were coming forward to report cases but said that crimes against women and children remained a source of concern. Journalists raised questions, amongst others, about the frequency of the release of crime statistics, commercial crime and the apparent rise in organised crime.

Questions
Q] E-TV asked why the briefing had made no mention of the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) successes for arrests and convictions.

A] Dr De Kock was sure that the Minster would, in the session to follow, release some of the success figures. His team simply analysed and interpreted the statistics and trends with the intention of giving strategic advice. He explained that at station level statistics were operationally analysed to give a better understanding of the crime in a particular area. Successes formed part of the measuring of the organisation’s performance and extensive mention of successes could also be found in the 2005/06 Annual Report.

Q] A journalist asked what the Department did with the information gathered from the statistics.

A] Dr De Kock pointed out that since the release of the previous statistics, the organisation had done quite a bit of analysis and compared to a year earlier had a much better understanding of some crimes. One such crime was business robbery. Not all such robberies were as high profile as the recent robbery at the Cresta shopping mall. Most happened in small businesses that were situated in suburbs, many of which did not have much security and thus were easy targets. They also had a better understanding of kidnapping and abductions. In South Africa kidnappings were not motivated by money but were often a consequence of other crimes such as car-hijackings. Many abductions were related to custody battles. Contact crimes were generally social in nature. 70-80% of such crimes were committed by perpetrators who were acquainted with their victims. It was very difficult to combat such crimes using conventional policing methods only.

Q] Business Report noted that commercial crime had remained fairly steady and asked if incidents were increasing behind closed doors but were handled privately.

A] Dr De Kock responded that it was difficult to break commercial crime down into different types. The trend was very stable and showed a marginal decrease. Worldwide commercial crime, much like sexually related crimes, was very underreported. Companies, especially financial institutions, often did not want external investigations often choosing to dismiss the culprits. To reveal that there was much internal crime in a specific bank would reflect negatively. Sometimes a case would be reported after the company itself had done some internal investigation. They then handed over whatever information they had uncovered and the police took the investigation further.

Q] A journalist asked if the Department’s analysis of the statistics included those cases that had been withdrawn as well as the ones that were false.

A] Dr De Kock explained that no crime was removed from the system. Social contact crimes such as rape and assault often happened between people who knew each other and exhibited a high rate of withdrawn charges. In the case of rape the withdrawal rate was 50%. Half the number of rape reports were withdrawn within days of the incident having been reported.

70-80% of all social contact crimes were committed by perpetrators who were acquainted with their victims. According to a docket analysis study that was done in 2000, 50% of such cases were withdrawn. It was more difficult to establish whether reports of property related crimes and robberies were false. Although no detailed study had been done of these reports, one could assume that the figure was quite high.

Referring to international studies he said that a few years previously the United States had experienced a problem with car jacking in Florida. After analysis it was found that only a third of the reported cases were actual car hijackings. Another third related to motor vehicle theft - because the owners did not want their whereabouts at the time of the theft to be known, they reported it as a hijacking. The remainder related to what was referred to as the “hula hoop” – the owners sold the cars, which were then taken to another country; days later they reported the car as stolen and claimed from the insurance.

Q] A Chinese news agency asked whether specific figures could be given for the number of rapes, murders and injuries.

A] Dr De Kock said that these figures could be found in the SAPS Annual Report for 2005/06. He could not give figures for injuries since these were difficult to assess. In 2005/06 18 528 murder cases, 54 926 rape cases, 20 571 attempted murder cases and 226 946 cases of assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm were reported. The latter included incidents of road rage, bar brawls and the like, where more than one person was likely to report the incident. Of the 227 553 common assault cases more than 50% were of a social nature. There were also 9 805 indecent assault cases, 119 726 cases of aggravated robbery and 74 723 cases of common robbery. He explained that the most common crime across the world was ‘theft not mentioned elsewhere’, which in 2005/06 came to 432 629 cases.

Q] A journalist noted that in 2004/5, SAPS had identified Khayelitsha as one of the most crime ridden areas yet that was not the case this year.

A] Dr De Kock replied that in the 2005/06 Annual Report the Department distinguished between the social contact crimes (murder, attempted murder, indecent assault, assault common, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and rape) and robberies. The areas with the highest number of social contact incidents were Hillbrow, Kwamashu, Umlazi, Maroka, Galeshewe, Inanda, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga and Tembisa.

The Annual Report listed all the robberies separately. Most robberies occurred in the central business district areas especially since large numbers of people frequented these areas during the daytime. Durban Central reported the most robberies followed by Johannesburg central, Hillbrow, Booysens, Kwamashu, Sunnyside, Mitchells Plain, Pretoria Central, Tembisa, Nyanga and Mamelodi.

He explained that Khayelitsha did not feature in the top crime-ridden areas since it had now been divided into three stations: Khayelitsha, Harare and Lingelethu West.

Q] The Sowetan noted that attacks on SAPS officials had increased but that the murder of officials had decreased. He asked what kind of injuries had been inflicted upon the officials that had been attacked.

A] Dr De Kock said that attacks on SAPS officials remained high. In 2005/06 the number increased to 1274 attacks. Since 2001, murders had decreased consistently. The drop in murders despite the increase in attacks showed that officers received better training and were able to handle arrests better. Most officials were killed in the process of pursuing suspects and making arrests. Officers also had access to better protective gear. He said that the upward swing in attacks in 2005/06 could be ascribed to the unrest during the local government protests and riots. He did not have a breakdown of the injuries that were inflicted upon officers.

Q] The Sowetan asked if the Western Cape could be considered as South Africa’s crime capital.

A] Dr De Kock said that murder capitals and crime clocks were some of the things he refused to refer to. Many conditions such as the population size impacted on such statistics. He did not want to refer to murder and rape capitals. He warned that it was dangerous to proclaim that any particular city was the crime capital. A few years earlier the Bramley ratepayers’ association had nearly taken the Department to court due to claims that Bramley was the hijacking capital which led to property prices in that area plummeting. If the figures indicated that crime in the Western Cape was higher then it might be that it was the murder capital. He certainly could not collaborate such a statement. Statisticians did not refer to crime clocks or crime capitals.

Q] Die Beeld noted that there was a 13,2% decrease in the illegal possession of firearms. Did this imply tighter control of legal firearms or improved police action?

A] Dr De Kock explain that in the preceding couple of years there had been an increase in the cases of illegal possession of firearms. This was largely due to tighter controls and actions taken by the Department, which resulted in much illegal firearms being removed from society. For drug, firearm and drunken driving cases, SAPS would like to see that there was an increase in cases. These cases were generated by police actions such as roadblocks and intelligence.

Q] The SABC asked if the Department had any statistics on the suicide rate among police officials.

A] Dr De Kock explained that such statistics were available but they were not considered part of the crime statistics.

Q] A journalist pointed out that the figures for cash in transit heists translated to more than one cash in transit heist a day. She asked what this massive increase said about police intelligence.

A] De Kock replied that the Minister’s briefing would shed more light on the year’s successes as far as aggravated robberies, cash in transit heists and bank robberies. The increase could also be ascribed to the fact that new syndicates were always being formed and that new members were always being recruited to already existing gangs.

Q] Die Burger noted that there was a significant increase in murder, rape and indecent assault in the Eastern Cape. To what could this increase be attributed?

A] Explaining that it was very difficult for the national department to give a response to such questions, Dr De Kock suggested that questions related to provincial figures be referred to the provincial commissioners.

Q] What measures would the Department put in place to reach the 7-10% reduction in contact crime?

A] Dr De Kock responded that to effectively combat social contact crime, greater socio-economic development was needed in South Africa. This would improve the living conditions in those areas where crime was predominant. He called for NGOs to also contribute to changing people’s lifestyles so that they did not seek out the drugs and alcohol that often contributed to crime. There should be a total improvement of the circumstances of those communities where the highest levels of crime were reported. Conventional policing alone would not change the situation much. This suggestion did not illustrate complacency on the part of the police but merely emphasised that all role players including communities should play their part.

Q] Pretoria News asked what the security cluster did to curb organised crime and crime syndicates.

A] The National Commissioner, Mr Jackie Selebi, responded that all stakeholders in the JCPS cluster had to take responsibility for handling organised crime – those who gathered intelligence about these syndicates, those who detected their activities and had to react, those who had to see that justice was served when perpetrators were caught as well as those who had to prepare correctional facilities for accommodating sentenced offenders. He explained that these crimes were highly organised and functioned within an organised structure and leadership. SAPS intelligence and other intelligence already produced photos of and intelligence on many suspects who were repeat offenders. Once information was available it was passed onto different regions areas so that the suspects could be tracked down.

Q] A journalist asked if there was any truth to the allegations that illegal immigrants were involved in some of the serious crimes that were being committed.

A] The Commissioner emphasised that criminals were criminals irrespective of the country they came from. One could no longer claim that particular people were responsible for a particular type of organised crime. The Department was addressing the number of “undocumented migrants” that were involved in criminal activity. It was important that illegal immigration be curbed because if such individuals were involved in crimes they could not be traced via fingerprint technology because there was no record of their presence in South Africa.

Q] A journalist asked what measures had been put in place to protect foreign diplomats from robbed in Pretoria.

A] The Commissioner replied that there was a perception that a certain group of people should have better protection than others. SAPS had set up a specialist unit that had all the resources to respond to any incidents that might occur. During his time as a diplomat he too had fallen victim to crime. This was not unique to South Africa. Everything was being done to protect foreign diplomats and the Department regretted any unfortunate incidents that occurred.

Q] Fin Week asked when last a performance review of the National Commissioner had been conducted, what the assessment was and whether the Commissioner had been rewarded with a performance bonus.

A] The Minister responded that performance assessments of senior executives of government were made on an annual basis. The Commissioner’s had been scheduled for the day before but unfortunately it could not take place since the representative from the Public Service Commission was unavailable. The assessment was done by a panel that then made a recommendation to the relevant minister. The minister could either accept or reject its recommendation. He said that he was not at liberty to reveal the details of Commissioner Selebi’s performance bonus and added that no one would like to have the details of their gratuities and honoraria to be made public.

Q] The Sowetan asked if there had been any reports of terrorist threats over the past year.

A] The Commissioner replied that there had been no such threats in the past couple of months but the Department remained vigilant and followed up on every claim that was made.

Q] Independent Newspapers asked to what the high number of incomplete complaints under general investigations could be attributed.

A] Dr De Kock explained that the cases listed as incomplete were still under investigation. The case dockets were registered. In some cases such as those related to drunken driving, it might also be that the department was still waiting on lab reports.

Q] A journalist asked what had informed the decision to continue releasing crime statistics annually rather than quarterly or monthly.

A] The Minister explained that statistics would continue being released annually until such time that the manner in which they were handled changed. At the moment the Department felt that it was better that they be released annually. Many much older democracies did the same. This did not mean that the Department would never change the manner in which it handled statistics. For now it would remain the same since it worked very well for South Africa. Releasing the statistics annually meant that the Department could over a twelve-month period assess what the crime trends in South Africa were. The Department would release the statistics as soon as possible after the end of the financial year but would not change the frequency of their publication. It was better to track trends over a twelve-month period because it gave a much better picture of what was happening. Other countries had the same experience.

Commissioner Selebi added that one could not establish whether a trend was present over a short period of time. The Department produced statistics for one reason only: to develop strategies for combating crime. Releasing them over a shorter period would make it difficult to assess and analyse crime trends. He added that some countries released their crime statistics biannually.

Q] The South African Press Association asked what the national conviction rates were.

A] The Commissioner replied that the Department dealt with detection rates. If one wanted figures around convictions representatives from the judiciary would have to be present.

The Minister added that representatives from the Department of Justice would have to be present to answer such a question. If such figures were to be calculated new systems would have to be installed so that they could categorise offenders shortly after their conviction.

Q] The Star asked if former liberation soldiers, both form South Africa and other countries, were involved in the highly organised cash in transit heists, hijackings and robberies.

A] Commissioner Selebi stated that no one who said that they had been part of a liberation movement would be involved in heists and other criminal activities. Liberation was a dignified process and those that were involved in the process could not demean themselves to get involved in crime. The people involved in these unlawful activities were criminals and one could not attach another label to them. These criminals came from South Africa as well as from neighbouring countries. He said that if he were to confirm that these criminals were one time liberation soldiers the media would immediately say that they were disgruntled with the treatment they received post-liberation. He reiterated that people involved in the crimes mentioned were criminals and nothing more.

Q] e-TV asked whether, in the light of the fact that the statistics were being released six months after the end of the financial year, the statistics were not distorted. There was an upsurge in violence in recent months that was not reflected in the statistics.

A] The Commissioner replied that it was necessary to calculate statistics over the same period of time. The increase of crime between March and now could be attributed to the security strike which had increased the workload of an already overextended police force. The absence of security officers meant that criminals had a much greater opportunity. In addition the strike was very violent. Police resources had gone towards managing the gaps left by the security guards over that three-month period. Since the police presence was severely compromised, it left greater opportunity for organised crime syndicates to strike their targets.

Dr De Kock added that even in the United States there was a gap between the end of the financial year and the release of the annual report. He reiterated that for a comparison to be valid, data needed to come from the same months. A crime trend took long to crystallise. At the lower levels of policing especially, they needed a period of a year in order to draw valid conclusions.

Q] e-TV asked if a government-funded victims’ survey would assist in establishing what the gap between reported and unreported crime was.

A] The Minister said that the statistics were calculated from the number of reported crimes. The genuineness of these reports was irrelevant. He was not sure how one would determine how many cases were not reported. He had heard of some figures that apparently reflected the level of unreported cases. The Department’s mandate was to investigate crimes and to apprehend criminals. He added that crime too had become globalised increasing the workload of the police force. Someone else would have to address additional issues because the police simply did not have the capacity to do it. Only a fraction of the cases the police investigated went to court. This was not unique to South Africa; the United Kingdom had a similar experience. Some cases did not go to court because charges were withdrawn. There were many reasons for these withdrawals: the victimisation of abused women and children who lay charges, some victims and perpetrators die before cases go to court and in South Africa the migration in search of employment also played a role.

Q] Associated Press noted that Dr De Kock had indicated that more unconventional policing methods were needed to combat social contact crimes, which were influenced by, amongst others, socio-economic circumstances. Why did the Annual Report indicate that the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences units would be closing?

A] The Commissioner assured everyone that no unit within the police service would close. It was necessary to locate expert capabilities in those areas where crimes were reported so that victims could have greater access. This process was underway.

Q] There had been much confusion around the White Paper on the judiciary. Could the panel give some indication about the subject matter of the White Paper? Would all legislation on the judiciary have to wait until the White Paper had been finalised?

A] The Minister explained that the White Paper would be used as a vehicle to bring about transformation. The Department had presented Cabinet with ideas on how they wanted to bring about transformation. Cabinet requested that the plans be refined. They had now been refined and would be presented to Cabinet for its endorsement. The White Paper would speak to all areas where change was necessary. Ultimately Cabinet would have to approve or reject the Department’s suggestions. If Cabinet should approve, then the public’s buy in would still have to be sought via public hearings and submissions.

Q] Business Report asked if Dr De Kock’s earlier statement that commercial crime was underreported might be due to the fact that businesses had lack of confidence in the police’s ability to investigate commercial crime.

A] The Commissioner replied that the Department’s commercial crime investigative unit was one of the best and had a 90% and higher conviction rate. This exceptional conviction rate could be verified at the Commercial Crime Court.

Q] Die Beeld asked if the public would be able to see the effects of the restructuring of the police within a year’s time.

A] The Commissioner expected the measures the Department had taken would release thousands of police from office duty. Many officers would be released from area offices and would be re-deployed at stations. There was no way that a station whose human resource capacity had been boosted could perform in the same manner as before. It was his job to ensure that they received support so that they could improve their performance. The Department was not merely restructuring for the sake of restructuring but wanted to achieve the goals set by Government. While it might not be able to achieve targets by next year, it was critical to make progress in areas that were of concern such as murder, rape and indecent assault.

He said that if targets set by Government were not met, he had to account to a panel that assessed his success and failure. He could be called to account at any time. He did not like to fail and tried to avoid it. Everything he did was aimed at not failing. SAPS management and officials realised that they would have to account for lack of performance.

He added that SAPS had developed a management tool that no one else had. It gave him unlimited access to the systems of any station in order to track their operational activities and performance. SAPS used the latest technological developments to assist them in performing its task.

Q] A representative from the Jacob Zuma Family Trust asked if the SAPS would increase the former Deputy President of South Africa’s security considering that one of his bodyguards had been killed.

A] The Commissioner said that there were ways of dealing with matters related to security. SAPS provided security for all their clients in a manner that they found satisfactory. Not necessarily referring to the situation that has been raised, he said that from time to time there was “loose talk” of security threats. There were processes and procedures that police adhered to when dealing with the security needs of clients. In his opinion the security provided to “that particular client” was still adequate and would only be improved once he was convinced of its inadequacy.

He failed to see the link between the guard’s death and Jacob Zuma’s security needs. To his understanding, the guard had been killed during a taxi violence incident in which no other people had been killed.

Q] The representative asked if, as ANC deputy president, he did not deserve increased security.

A] The Commissioner responded that if there were any security concerns, such concerns should be raised in accordance with the appropriate procedures. Concerns would never be responded to if they were raised via the mass media.

Q] A journalist asked if any action had been taken against the investigators who had failed to discover the body of Judge Bernard Ngoepe's four-year old daughter granddaughter. Her body was discovered in her home two days after the robbery and her murder.

A] The Commissioner responded that if investigators arrived at the scene of the crime five hours after it had been reported, there was a problem somewhere. In such cases the National Commissioner could not remain silent because answers needed to be found. The toddler’s body (which was in the house) could not be found, and 200 members had been dispatched to search a nearby veld. Clearly someone had neglected to do his job. The people involved had been dealt with and disciplinary measures had been taken. He refused to give more details saying that the media wanted more information simply to sensationalise the action that had been taken.

Q] A journalist asked if it would be safe to assume that judging from the statistics, South Africa was a safer place.

A] The Minister responded that although numbers had decreased, the Department was not pleased that crime in South Africa, particularly organised and other serious crimes, were of such a violent nature that lives were often lost.

He emphasised that contact crime especially needed to be reduced. The statistics released that day showed that many of the contact crimes (other than rape, murder and indecent assault) had gone down drastically. Systems related to human and material resources had been put in place in order to achieve this reduction. Training in investigations as well as technology had been improved. Considering these improvements he felt that South Africa did indeed enjoy better safety.

The Minister continued saying that more and more people realised that crime combating was not only the police’s responsibility. There were two main categories of crime: those that could be combated using conventional policing and those that could not be combated via these means. Social crimes were characterised by the fact that the perpetrator and the victim knew each other. Surveys by independent agencies indicated that between 75-80% of crimes in South Africa were of this nature and could largely be attributed to the social conditions under which people lived. Many of these crimes were committed under the influence of alcohol and drugs and mainly happened over weekends when such substances were more readily available. They were difficult to combat using conventional methods only and the police had a reactive response to them.

He said that some other crimes could be dealt with using conventional methods of crime prevention and crime combating. These crimes were within the parameters of policing in South Africa. He was very excited that more people were coming forward to become part of the fight against crime. More partners who were willing to work with the police were emerging. Some enlisted as reservists and he hoped that more such participants would emerge. The Department aimed to have an anti crime campaign that would be supported by much public participation. He felt that the future of the fight against crime looked very rosy.

The meeting was adjourned.

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"I'd rather have a gun and not need it than vice versa."
Martin_tu
 
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