High-profile murders galvanise people - ISS

2014-10-28 13:09
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Johannesburg - The murder of celebrities and high-profile people such as Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa often galvanises the public to help prevent crime, an analyst said on Tuesday.

"Anywhere in the world, far more attention would be given to the murder of the captain of a high profile national sports team than a person who has a low public profile," Institute for Security Studies (ISS) governance, crime, and justice division head Gareth Newham said.

"This is because many people already know who the victim is because of their high public profile and therefore are more affected when that person is murdered. When people don’t know the victim of a murder they are less affected by it."

However, this did not necessarily mean the public was apathetic and fickle.

"It is difficult for the public to reduce crimes such as armed robberies or firearm murders," Newham said.

"In fact it is not desirable for members of the public to start arming themselves to confront armed criminals.

"This leads to increased vigilantism and the collapse of the rule of law which negatively affects the stability of a country.

"It is often high-profile murders that assist to galvanise more people into taking action such as joining community police forums or providing information on the whereabouts of criminals to the police," Newham said.

Meyiwa, the national soccer team and Orlando Pirates captain and goalkeeper, was shot dead by robbers in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, while visiting his girlfriend, singer and actress Kelly Khumalo, on Sunday night.

Task team

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega announced on Monday that she had set up a multi-disciplinary task team made up of forensic, crime intelligence, and visible policing members to handle the murder case.

A reward of up R250 000 was being offered for information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of the killers.

Recently, the murder trials of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius and British businessman Shrien Dewani have captured the interest of the public and the media.

Last Tuesday, Pistorius was sentenced in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to five years in prison for the culpable homicide killing of his girlfriend, law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp.

He was also sentenced to three years in jail, suspended for five years, for discharging a firearm at Tasha's restaurant in Sandton, Johannesburg, in January 2013.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Monday the State would appeal against Pistorius's conviction of culpable homicide and the sentence he received.

Dewani's trial is currently underway.

He is accused of the murder of his wife Anni Hindocha during their honeymoon in Cape Town. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiracy to commit these crimes, and defeating the ends of justice.

Dewani claims the couple were hijacked as they were being driven through Gugulethu on Saturday, November 13, 2010. He was released unharmed and Anni driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning.

The State alleges he conspired with others to stage the hijacking in return for R15 000.

Criminal justice system

Newham said the criminal justice system needed to be improved if people were to have more faith in it and work more closely with it.

"There will always be some level of crime, and it will always mostly be 'underground'. However, it can be managed so that it does not pose the type of major risk to the public that it currently does," he said.

"To reduce armed robberies it is important to appoint the best possible people to head the SA Police Service [SAPS]."

Newham said the National Development Plan (NDP) recommended that a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary national police board be established to ensure that this happened.

"While there are very experienced senior police officials, too many people have been appointed into top positions without the necessary skills, experience, and dedication to integrity."

He said the country continued to see "serial crises of top management" in the SAPS, as some honest officers were allegedly targeted for removal, while corrupt officers were allegedly protected.

"This situation causes mistrust and low morale among the senior officers who are then unable to put plans in place to use the considerable police resources available to reduce robberies," Newham said.

"This is why we keep seeing the establishment of task teams to respond to specific incidents, rather than clear strategies to improve policing generally."

Newham said it also had to be recognised that much violence, including most murders, rapes, and assaults were interpersonal in nature.

"To reduce this violence, we need to invest more in social workers, improving teachers and front-line health workers."

No clear strategies

For two consecutive years murders, attempted murders, and armed robberies had increased exponentially, demonstrating that there were no clear strategies to address the problem.

"We need to start implementing the NDP as a matter of urgency," Newham said.

"The NDP has sound recommendations for professionalising the SAPS and developing an integrated approach for crime reduction. We therefore welcome the statement by the minister of police that he will be guided by the NDP."

It was reported on Sunday that a "reference group" was established by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to look into appointments, suspensions, and disciplinary and criminal proceedings involving senior police management.

Nhleko's spokesperson Musa Zondi said the committee's six members, who he did not name, were not from the police, but "experts in their own fields".

The committee would reportedly probe Phiyega for allegedly warning Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer that he was being investigated for his alleged links to drug lords, the suspension of police crime intelligence unit head Richard Mdluli, and claims that KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Major General Johan Booysen was being targeted.

Read more on:    iss  |  oscar pistorius  |  senzo meyiwa  |  shrien dewani  |  pistorius trial  |  dewani trial  |  crime

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