Mbalula must win back public’s trust in police

2017-05-14 09:30
Fikile Mbalula. (Netwerk24, File)

Fikile Mbalula. (Netwerk24, File)

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Like a new broom, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula is expected to sweep clean.

And I have no doubt that he can carry out that task successfully. What Mbalula has to start with is the image of the SA Police Service.

Earlier this year Stats SA released disturbing survey findings that painted a negative picture of our police and the communities they are serving.

The Victims of Crime Survey indicated that people have lost confidence in our police.

Community members say they no longer see the importance of reporting criminal cases because their experiences of police investigations are those of lazy police who cannot apprehend criminals despite knowing them.

The results of this important survey are not in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP talks of building safer communities and professionalising the police service.

Minister Mbalula must start with developing strategies that will inspire public confidence in the police.

He must work to bring back the trust that communities have lost in police before officials can be seen to be professional. Yes, it is true that there is a backlog in terms of cases at police stations.

This, in part, has to do with overworked investigative officers due to understaffing.

I am not speaking on behalf of the police service, but the truth is that, on average, most detectives carry approximately 150 or more cases individually due to the shortage of resources, a matter under discussion at national level.

But let us remember that crime happens in the community and is at times committed by people known to the locals.

Unless community members take an active role in community policing structures and report crime to the police, investigations will always take long to complete.

Now, without sounding like the new sheriff in town, Razzmatazz must help restore the image of the police.

Another contributing element to the public’s loss of confidence is the conduct of the police when it comes to certain situations.

In 1995 the SA Police Force was transformed into a police service.

Now, more than 20 years into democracy police officers continue to publicly be involved in cases of physical abuse.

We have not yet forgotten what the police did to Mido Macia, a Mozambican national who was dragged behind a police van in broad daylight in Daveyton and later died in police cells.

Again, in Mokopane, Limpopo, a police officer dragged a civilian, who later died in hospital, behind a police van.

Do you still expect the public to have confidence in the police, Mr Mbalula?

The goings-on in the police department that involve acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, plus the status of General Berning Ntlemeza, do not inspire confidence.

If there is no unity at the top, how do we expect station commanders to successfully control their members? The law must take its course.

Those found to be on the wrong side of the law must be dealt with accordingly.

Police officials need to be reminded that they are in a democratic South Africa where only service, not force, has space.

The minister cannot think of any new tactic of fighting crime if the police’s image is left in its current state.

Government cannot expect to achieve the objectives of the NDP if communities’ confidence in police is low.

Otherwise, the public will continue losing confidence in the police as the police will be doing as they wish.

Kobe is the acting director of communications in the department of safety, security and liaison in Limpopo

Read more on:    saps  |  ipid  |  fikile mbalula  |  khomotso phahlane  |  national development plan

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