Deputy Minister of Police, Ms M. Sotyu;
Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Ms Z. Kota-Fredericks;
Western Cape MEC for Community Safety, Mr D. Plato;
Mayoral Committee Member for Safety, Mr JP Smith;
Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Police, Ms A. Van Wyk;
Chairperson of the National Lottery Board, Professor N. Nevhutanda;
Western Cape SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General A. Lamoer; All SAPS Lieutenant Generals and Senior Management present;
Civilian Secretary for Police, Ms J. Irish-Qhobosheane;
Cluster Community Policing Forum Chairperson, Mr M. Jacobs;
Representatives from the Interfaith, Business, Civic and Youth structures; Community of Mitchell’s Plain and surrounding areas;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
In dealing with issues of crime, government proceeds from a premise that a rising quality of life also means improvement in the safety and security of citizens; in their homes and environments where they live, work and engage in extramural activities.
We have in the past emphasised the point that battle against crime cannot be separated from the war on want. In the main, incidents of contact crime such as murder, grievous bodily harm and rape occur among acquaintances in poor communities where living and entertainment environments do not allow for decent family and social life.
Crime prevention therefore requires that interdepartmental cooperation extend beyond the criminal justice system to include, when necessary, departments responsible for local government, education, and social services. Today’s presence of these different spheres of government commendable and serves as further testimony that collectively we can succeed.
We are aware of some of the challenges faced by the community Mitchell’s Plain, including increase of crime levels, which are more accompanied by high levels of violent crime, gangsterisms and stabbings. The proliferation of illegal firearms also contributes to the escalating incidents of crime.
The use of drugs has become an international challenge. It destroys millions of people’s lives, robs the youth in particular, of the opportunity to pursue productive lives and contribute to the development of their countries and humanity as a whole.
The distribution and sale of drugs are also major contributory factors to gang wars, which affect negatively, other aspects of social life, in particular, the security and safety of innocent community members.
The drug challenge has been complicated by the increasing manufacturing and sale of dependency-forming substances with legal chemical substances. Drug use has found its way into sports, social events like parties, and even into our schools. It is estimated that only 2% of heroin users can be rehabilitated and, rehabilitation for a drug addict costs about R50 000 for six months.
Many of those addicted to drugs commit other crimes to generate resources to sustain their dependency, thus giving rise to a secondary effect through victimising others when property crimes are committed.
In the light of the foregoing, the Ministry of Police has decided to launch a focused campaign targeting the drug problem, and its relation to the issue of broader substance abuse and gangsterism.
As part of the campaign, the police will implement intelligence-driven, concerted and programmatic interventions aimed at dealing serious blows to the illegal drug trade and use.
Police in Mitchell’s Plain continue to deal with the challenges of gang and drug violence, in partnership with the community. In this area we have 485 Street Committees with 3696 members, including 457 Neighbourhood Watch members.
In dealing with drug related crimes, police arrested 4976 suspects from January 2013 to date however what is worrying is that of this number, 184 were children. In 2007 police closed 179 drug houses in Mitchell’s Plain and this year alone, 81 drug houses were shut down. We also commend our police for securing 2975 drug convictions in the previous financial year.
In dealing with gang related crimes, gang incidents since 1 April 2013 included 7 reported cases for murder (5 cases solved), whereas 3 children were arrested (16 years) and of the 6 cases for attempted murder, all have been solved.
Furthermore, since January 2013 police confiscated 116 firearms with 134 arrests. Once again we are seeing a worrying trend in which 2 were children of 13 years are involved. We need to emphasise that most of the time the so-called gang incidents are triggered by a very small argument or internal conflict. The solution is not more forces on the streets, but a concerted effort from various roleplayers.
To succeed, this effort requires all of us to work together. We need to support the police, particularly with information, and the criminal justice cluster as a whole. Government in all its spheres, civil society, faith-based organisations, business, community based organisations and NGOs, let us together all hold hands and deal a decisive blow to the scourge of drugs.
What this means is that all of us must remain steadfast in advancing the programme of drug and gang violence. This is a mandate that speaks to the continued relevance of a multi-pronged approach in the fight against crime, combining aspects of crime prevention, crime combating and the improvement of socio-economic conditions.
From a policing perspective, our focus has shifted from targeting and arresting the sniffers towards crippling the drug syndicates. This shift was informed by our observation that whilst we focused on the sniffers in the past, the ‘big bosses’ are smiling all the way, without any remorse or care of how much damage they are causing. These are the real thugs we should all target and apprehend.
It is a fact that most of the drug victims are getting younger. The prevalent crimes that are committed include burglary (residential) and that most items stolen are easily sold to sustain drug habits. When we passed the Second-Hand Goods Act, 2009 (Act No 6 of 2009), which came into effect on 1 May 2012, our intervention by and large was targeting to address such criminal acts.
In essence, the Act stipulates that any person who buys a stolen good is as guilty as the person who stole the goods; and harsher sentences will apply to both the buyer and the thief. Now with the new law, both the buyer and the seller both face a prison sentence of up to 10 years, which in the past was 10 months. This demonstrates our resoluteness in ensuring that the perpetrators are severely punished.
Our message to the community of Mitchell’s Plain is to refrain from buying stolen goods because this perpetuates criminality. We must actively participate in community policing forums. We must stop buying stolen goods, instead must report criminals and assist the police with information to catch wrongdoers. In this way, we will move forward towards a crime-free society.
This challenge also needs to be understood not only as a Western Cape of South African phenomenon. The challenges posed by drugs and organised crime pervade all levels of life. It is reflected in corruption, drug abuse, violence, indifference to the suffering of others, the breakdown of the family life, and the crisis of morality, culture and philosophy.
The drug trade and its associated problems continue to grow in most parts of the world. Global abuse and accessibility of drugs has become increasingly complex, as trafficking routes have become shorter, more diverse and more easily traversed. The organised crime and drug trade involves growers, producers, couriers, suppliers, dealers and users and affects people in all countries.
The issues of drug trafficking and gang violence, require more than just policing. They require interventions around the socio-economic challenges to be addressed. Drugs and substance abuse have serious implications for millions of South Africans and contributes to crime, gangsterism, domestic violence, family dysfunction and other social problems. They not only have negative impacts on the health sector, but impact negatively on the family, society, economic and social development.
Compounding the increase in substance abuse not only in the Western Cape but across the country is the sad reality that some segments of society perceive this as a policing issue only. It is not merely about policing or deploying an Army as some of the provincial leaders have alluded to. What we are faced with here is a multifaceted challenge which includes socio-economic challenges such as unemployment, poverty, social ills.
Our analysis in addressing this challenge through a multifaceted approach is as follows:
Truancy project and school drop outs, can be supported by the Departments of Education, Social Development and Communication by means of awareness campaigns, printing of pamphlets, marketing and counselling;
Domestic violence- and teenage pregnancy projects can be supported by Departments of Education, Social Development and Health by means of awareness campaigns, workshops and counselling;
Drugs and alcohol abuse projects can be supported by Departments of Health and Social Development by means of awareness campaigns, workshops, counselling and ensuring an effective rehabilitation programme;
Missing children can be supported by Departments of Education, Social Development and Communication by means of awareness campaigns, printing of pamphlets, marketing and counselling;
Neighbourhood watches and street committees can be supported by the Department of Community Safety by means of training, funding for equipment and providing life insurance cover;
Absence of house numbers in Tafelsig can be addressed by Town Planning at Local Government level;
Lack of by-law enforcement can be addressed by Law Enforcement and Metro Police at Local Government level;
Poor health service to mentally challenged persons can be addressed by the Department of Health by means of improved capacity for assessment;
Lack of sufficient drug rehabilitation infrastructure can be supported by Departments of Social Development and Health by means of improvement in the infrastructure;
Limited traffic law enforcement can be addressed by Traffic Services at Local Government level;
Lack of safety facilities for domestic violence victims can be addressed by the Departments of Social Development;
Certification of documents can also be done by the Departments of Justice, Social Development, and Home affairs;
Illegal building structures can be addressed by Town planning at Local Government level;
Open spaces and parks should be well maintained by Local Government;
Dunes and bushes in under developed areas should be addressed by Local Government to improve visibility.
Government’s response is also now moving towards the establishment of technical task teams are established involving different government departments. Such an approach is also based on the National Drug Master Plan – aimed at reducing demand, harm and supply; and which focuses more on prevention, early intervention, treatment and after-care and re-integration.
We want to utilise this important occasion to make a clarion call to all young people to lead exemplary lifestyles, away from crime. As future generations, you cannot and must never abdicate on your responsibilities of ensuring that you remain free from crime, prostitution and drugs.
As young people you live in an imperfect world loaded with indecencies, social ills, civil and drug conflicts. All these social disturbances have placed the picture of young people in doubt. Unless you organise yourselves, it would be difficult to deal with the challenges facing you as the youth of Mitchell’s Plain.
We recommit ourselves, hence our presence here with you today, that we will intensify the war against drug abuse in this community and others across the country. But without your support and active partnership as society, we shall not succeed.
Together we shall fight and defeat drug and gang violence in the Western Cape.