2008-09-30 : Crime levels are 'very high', says minister

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2008-09-30 : Crime levels are 'very high', says minister

Postby GOSA » Wed, 2008-10-22 11:44

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 341C633096

Crime levels are 'very high', says minister Bongani Mthembu
September 30 2008 at 11:52AM

Newly appointed Minister of Safety and Security Nathi Mthethwa has
declared bosses of organised crime and corrupt police officers to be his
priorities as he takes on the "very high" crime rate in South Africa.

Acknowledging that the level of crime in South Africa was unacceptably
high, Mthethwa said the fight would not be won if corrupt police officers
were not removed from the police force.

"We know that some police officers are colluding with gangs. That is
very bad because it means that criminals are not being arrested. We will
deal with corrupt police officers very harshly," Mthethwa vowed in his first
interview since taking office.

Organised crime, such as ATM bombings and cash-in-transit heists, were
also on his list. He believed that South Africa had not done much to fight
organised crime.

"We have a lot of ATM bombings and cash-in-transit heists and people
just get away with it. The way they commit these crimes shows that they are
properly organised and the networks need to be crushed," he said.

The new minister feels that police have failed to deal adequately with
petty crime.

"We have also neglected petty crime. Petty crime is so bad that many
people do not report it any more," he said.

The high rate of white-collar crime also posed huge threats to the
stability of the country, he said.

His frank admission that crime was very high marked a departure from
former president Thabo Mbeki's administration, which focused on playing it
down and on incremental improvements.

Mthethwa's predecessor, Charles Nqakula, now minister of defence, said
at one stage that crime whingers should leave the country.

"It is not right to deny that crime exists. People who complain about
crime are not mad. Crime affects everybody across the racial divide.

"We need to make sure that criminals are not welcome in this country
because they violate the rights of law-abiding citizens. We need to make
sure that criminals are dealt with accordingly," said Mthethwa.

However, he said perceptions that crime was out of control were

On Monday, Mthethwa was in a marathon meeting with Nqakula and police

He will spend a few days familiarising himself with existing
crime-fighting strategies before he implements his new "tough strategies".

Another challenge facing the new minister is policemen being killed.
According to police reports, 107 officers were murdered between April last
year and March this year.

"It is easy to kill police officers in this country. We need to
protect these people who protect our people," said Mthethwa.

The issue of police killings is so serious that safety and security
deputy minister Susan Shabangu has on several occasions urged the police to
shoot to kill to protect communities and themselves.

Mthethwa also faces the mammoth task of planning to ensure that
visitors are protected during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Turning to what he described as petty politicking over crime, he said:
"We need to be united against crime and politicians must not use this issue
for scoring points."

The DA said the new minister needed to deliver on his responsibilities
and accept that crime was one of the most pressing issues for all South

"He should not, like his predecessor, state that whingers should leave
the country, but should instead keep South Africans properly informed about
what he is doing to make South Africa a safer place," said the DA's Dianne
Kohler Barnard.

She urged Mthethwa to fire national Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi
and replace him with someone with integrity and extensive law enforcement

"Mthethwa must also reinstate the specialised units, which include the
narcotics bureau and the family violence, child abuse and sexual offences
units and agree to retain the Scorpions in its current form," she said.

She said Mthethwa needed to commit himself to revamping the detective
service and ensure that it had all the necessary vehicles, equipment and

a.. This article was originally published on page 1 of Daily News on September 30, 2008
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