Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Who is in charge of fighting crime?

Johannesburg, South Africa
03 January 2006 02:25
A "lacklustre" performance by Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula and the "disappearance from the radar" of National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi have left the Democratic Alliance wondering who is in charge of fighting crime, the party said in a statement on Tuesday.

DA MP Roy Jankielsohn, the party's spokesperson for safety and security, said 2005 was a bad year for Nqakula, and Selebi disappeared from the limelight.

"It is never clear who is leading the fight against crime," Jankielsohn said, adding "there is a glaring lack of political leadership."

This lack of leadership is one of 10 safety and security issues that the party will be focusing on this year.

The others include police personnel policies, police equipment, the Firearms Control Act, parliamentary accountability, crime statistics, police corruption and misconduct and the improvement of the criminal justice system.

Jankielsohn is concerned that the African National Congress "both inside and outside the SAPS [South African Police Service]" might be using the police for political purposes.

"The recent investigation into the Zuma rape charge, including constant leaks to the press from unnamed sources within the SAPS, smacked of a political cat-and-mouse game. The infighting within the ruling party has spilled over into our law-enforcement agencies and has become a threat to national security in South Africa."

One clear threat, Jankielsohn said, is South Africa's "porous borders".

"The security vacuum in rural areas, especially along our borders, must not be allowed to develop further."

He said that it is especially attacks from Lesotho that are of the greatest concern.

"If other governments are not able to restrain their citizens from committing crimes in South Africa, the SAPS, with the support of the South African National Defence Force, should be able to carry out hot pursuit operations to retrieve South African property and apprehend perpetrators of crimes."

The DA highlighted what it calls "critical vacancies".

"Currently shortages of crime-prevention personnel required to ensure optimal staffing are sitting at 46% (2 235) in Gauteng, 49% (940) in the Free State, and 45% (2 724) in KwaZulu-Natal. There is also a 28% (1 372) shortage of detectives in Gauteng and a 19% (541) shortage of detectives in the Western Cape."

The party said there are a further 122 vacancies at the forensic crime laboratory and 152 vacancies at the criminal record centre.

"Although government continues to make promises regarding the recruitment of additional police officials and the training of additional detectives, it should never have allowed this situation to develop in the first place," Jankielsohn said.

He said the DA will be focusing on these issues in Parliament. -- Sapa