Pretoria: While the South African Police Service (SAPS) is going back to basics to ensure a safer South Africa, communities need to partner with the police to ensure that this vision becomes a reality.
“The police, without the involvement of the communities, will never be able to win crime,” said Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.
The Minister, his deputy Maggie Sotyu and acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane were addressing The New Age business briefing in Sandton on Thursday.
Minister Nhleko said police focus on four key areas, namely visible policing, capacitating detectives, intelligence work and interacting with communities.
The Minister said visible police will bring the public confidence back. He said they are relying on police academies to be a force multiplier as people tend to feel safer when there is more police visibility.
Another issue which tarnishes the image of the police is the case backlog due to lack of detectives, investigations and intelligence.
“Members of the public can only have confidence in the work of the police if detective and intelligence work leads to finalisation of cases,” Minister Nhleko said.
He said they have started a process of case age analysis to look into the actual causes of the backlog.
“From there, we will look into what kind of interventions are needed to reverse the causes and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.”
Deputy Minister Sotyu said in order to get the relationship right with communities, there has to be “oneness of the police”.
“In order for them to be able to do what is expected of them, they need to be looked after. It is the responsibility of … us the management to look into the oneness of the police and boost the morale of the police.”
She said South Africa needs an active and healthy police force that will protect communities and the State, and be able to look at their own families.
But for this to be achieved, Deputy Minister Sotyu said there have to be policies that are reflective of the current times.
She said a transformation committee is currently looking into the salaries of police, especially in the lower ranks.
“We need to give them a salary that fits the amount of work they are doing. We can’t treat police as any other profession… They are very different from other professionals so I do not think it’s fair to treat them the way we are in terms of salaries,” said the Deputy Minister.
Protecting those who serve
Outlining the state of the police service, General Phahlane said it is “not a mess as displayed by media reports”.
“We are a leadership of an institution established in terms of the Constitution. It is an institution with the authority to police and as members, we have no other mandate other than to ensure that [what the] Constitution demands from all of us is translated into practice,” he said, adding that there is no crisis at management level.
On the killing of police officers, General Phahlane said this was worrying.
“It is what we call a crisis. It is an attack on the authority of the State and as such, it cannot be taken lightly. As communities, we need to rally behind the police.”
Statistics show that over 60 police officers have been killed since January this year.
A police safety plan has been developed and will be implemented through a National Crime Combating Forum (NCCF) instruction in due course to strengthen the implementation of the Police Safety Strategy.
General Phahlane said it is unfortunate that there can never be enough police officers for every member of the community.
SAPS data reveals that the citizen-police ratio was currently at one police officer to 347 citizens.
Responding to a question on police brutality, General Phahlane said the use of firearms by police must never be outside the ambit of law.
“We encourage responsible policing but when police members are attacked by gun-wielding criminals, they must respond accordingly.”
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS