Intelligence service fails SA, says former top cop Fivaz

2013-05-22 17:03

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Former police commissioner George Fivas has lashed the country’s lax intelligence and police services as “not up to standard”, but has said the country’s crime statistics are trustworthy.

Addressing the Centurion Business Forum today, Fivas, who was appointed by former President Nelson Mandela when he became the country’s first democratically elected president, said concerns surrounding the country’s intelligence services were not unfounded.

Fivas, who retired from the service in 2000, said one of the primary objectives of a good intelligence service was to protect its citizens.

“Something is wrong in the intelligence community in South Africa. Our intelligence service is an important ingredient of the fight against crime but it is not up to standard. And if you don’t get it right we will have many more Marikanas,” he said, referring to the shooting of 34 striking mine workers by police in August last year.

He criticised the public spat between former intelligence head Gibson Njenje and State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele and said that the intelligence community needed “protection” to do its work.

“Intelligence must tell you who is going to do what to whom and at what time,” adding that if this was happening as it should police would have received intelligence informing them about what was going to happen prior to the shooting of mine workers.

He admitted that although the murder rate was down “because during my days it was 19 000 per year, now it is 16 000 per year”, this did not mean the crime situation was under control.

“Our capacity to combat crime in our country is not up to standard. Crime levels in South Africa are far too high, and we know that, but police acting alone will not solve the situation.

“Crime is not so simple to deal with. What people often do is to simplify crime to say as long as we have a good police service we’re going to have less crime or no crime. That is a wrong perception,” said Fivas, who now runs a forensic and risk management and investigating company.

Government’s crime-prevention plan was not working, said Fivas, adding it was vitally important to change the perception that South Africa was a crime-ridden country.

Police were hamstrung in their crime-fighting initiatives, because many resources were spent on policing service-delivery protests.

“How can you fight crime when you have hundreds of protests a month over service delivery? Police and the courts can do very little. It is up to everyone to act and assist those structures to fight crime.

“We have a big problem in South Africa and we have to act hard. If government policies, the courts in the criminal justice system, socioeconomic problems and the values of individual people are wobbly, we won’t deal with crime effectively.

“Police can do much better but in general you can’t point fingers at police for crimes that happen when they are not there,” said Fivas.

He defended crime statistics as credible even though the accuracy of the statistics have been questioned by various experts.

“Declines in crime are too low to convince people that crime is under control, because it is not. But I think we can trust our crime statistics because we have independent crime surveys in this country on an ongoing basis,” said Fivas.

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