Police not winning war against crime - SAPS analyst

2017-08-15 15:00
Hawks. (Theana Breugem, Media24, file)

Hawks. (Theana Breugem, Media24, file)

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Cape Town - The police are not winning the war against crime, an analyst from the police's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation told MPs on Tuesday.

"From where I am sitting, we are not winning the war, we are not," head of analysis at the Hawks, Major-General Peter Arendse, told the police portfolio committee.

"Well, at least you are being honest," FF Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said when Arendse made the startling revelation during a question-and-answer session after his presentation.

The meeting got off to a shaky start when committee chairperson Francois Beukman refused to let police present their latest report on what they are doing to curb gang violence in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, because they submitted it too late for MPs to prepare.

The committee then moved on to an update on the progress of a specially established unit in the DPCI that focuses on priority crimes: Drugs and illegal firearms.

MPs' anger

It soon emerged that labour issues were holding back the planned restructuring to draw police officers into the unit. This meant they were not able to advertise the posts and finalise the unit's structure. It currently has 178 officers.

MPs were aghast that the unit had not made any arrests or secured any convictions for illegal firearms, or confiscated such firearms in the Western Cape for the latest reporting period from April 1 to June 30.

"So general, you say that in three months in the Western Cape there were no recovered firearms? No? That's a major problem," said Beukman.

During the 2017 State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of two specialised units within the Hawks, to focus on investigating the priority crimes of drugs and illegal firearms.

According to figures from March 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, there were 598 arrests nationally for illegal firearms and 101 convictions. A total of 1980 firearms were confiscated.

MPs quickly began tearing apart Arendse's figures, wanting to know why he had added an extra month to the one year reporting period, and why there were convictions in areas that showed no arrests in the province-by-province breakdown.

He updated the printed figures as he went along.

A colleague sitting behind him explained that sometimes police included convictions from the reporting period that were not related to the arrests recorded for the same period.

He had to update the figures because the report had been submitted to the committee two weeks ago.

MPs became increasingly unhappy with the information and questioned its veracity.

When Arendse could not provide information on the union issues that were holding back the restructuring, the committee lost its patience.

Beukman said he would not carry on with the meeting and chided police for being ill-prepared.

"SAPS and the DPCI must come back with a full presentation," Beukman said and ended the meeting.

Read more on:    police  |  hawks  |  cape town  |  crime  |  parliament

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