The South African Police Service, particularly the Western Cape, seems to be under the control of criminals, with Minister Bheki Cele its ringleader.
Action Society echoes the sentiments of Western Cape Minister of Community Safety and Police Oversight, Reagen Allen, that Bheki Cele has no appetite to stop crime in the Western Cape.
Therefore, the only solution to combat crime will be to devolve the police, starting with the Western Cape, and get rid of Minister Cele.
“Our crime situation is a direct consequence of SAPS management’s involvement and approval of corrupt and criminal networks and its inability to resource police officers appropriately,” said Ian Cameron, Director of Community Safety at Action Society. “We have stated time and time again that the SAPS will not function properly under the mismanagement of the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele. The longer he stays on and makes decisions nationally, the longer the list of failures becomes.
“That directly influences police ability to fight crime and South Africans feeling safe.”
Action Society has compiled a list of Cele’s failures to encourage President Ramaphosa to set aside political affiliations and do what is best for South Africa.
1. Cele attempted to classify IPID reports linked to fraudulent firearm licenses for criminals
In December 2018, Lt.Col. Charl Kinnear reported activities by a rogue unit of police officers, amongst other allegations, allegedly involved in issuing fraudulent firearm licences to known criminals. Despite several direct threats against his life, no security detail was assigned, and he was assassinated in September 2020. Minister Bheki Cele attempted to classify the IPID report on the assassination of Colonel Charl Kinnear.
2. PCEM system mismanagement
Forensic Data Analysis (FDA) switched off the Property Control and Exhibit Management System (PCEM) due to non-payment by the SAPS. This led to eight million pieces of lost forensic evidence.
3. DNA backlog
A creative interpretation of the progress in reducing the DNA backlog and a deadline that keeps moving forward leaves unanswered questions about the total backlog. Cele claimed it to be at 71 000 at the end of 2022 but excluded new backlog cases from that number. Whatever the correct number is, it fades when the practical implication leads to the scrapping of more than 200 criminal cases from the Western Cape court roll because of the DNA backlog in December 2022. As a result, victims of violent crime and GBV are not getting their day in court or the justice they deserve.
4. High gender-based violence, rape and murder crime stats
Between July and September 2022, 118 rape cases were reported daily, leading to 10 590 rape cases over three months. The current rape conviction rate is less than 3%. The gender-based violence conviction rate is 7.8%.
Three people are murdered in South Africa per hour, amounting to 71 murders per day. In the Western Cape, in the first quarter of 2022/23, the murder total was 994, that is 331 per month, 11 per day and 0.46 per hour.
In the past year, 1 216 children were killed, and 1 302 were victims of attempted murder.
5. Firearms Control Amendment Bill
The bill seeks to disarm citizens in a country rife with murder, rape and other violent crime by limiting our right to self-defence to ‘reduce the number of illegal firearms in circulation’.
6. Loss of firearms and ammunition
In the last 12 years, the police have lost 26 025 SAPS firearms. Minister Cele’s figures presented to parliament in 2019 included nearly 10 million rounds of ammunition, more than 3.2 million of which were missing in the Eastern Cape alone.
7. More than 10 000 police officers charged with serious offences
More than 10 000 police officers have been charged with murder, rape and assault since 2012. Of the 10 086 officers charged, only 50 faced suspension since 2012/13.
8. High ranking on Global Organized Crime Index
In 2021 the Index ranked South Africa 19th out of 193 UN member states. With its criminality score of 6.63, South Africa ranked fifth out of 54 African countries. Only the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, the Central African Republic and Kenya scored higher.
In September 2022, the Index stated that the “SAPS remains an institution without strategic direction when it comes to organized crime. It is still committed to a high visibility, low-impact approach that centres on taking down ‘high-flyers’ and making big seizures and large numbers of low-level arrests.”
9. WC High Court judgement finding SAPS compromised at ‘highest levels’
Judge Daniel Thulare produced a damning written judgement in the Western Cape High Court, detailing the infiltration by gangs of the top management structures of SAPS in the province. His judgment further stated that the gangs had protection and assistance from corrupt members of the police.
10. Fired as Police Commissioner
Following allegations of corruption, Minister Cele was fired as National Police Commissioner in June 2012. Following in his footsteps, Lt.Genl Khehla Sitole, the previous National Commissioner, has also been sacked for purposefully obstructing IPID investigations into corrupt procurement deals within the Crime Intelligence environment.
“Looking at these failures and blatant power overstepping, Action Society cannot help but wonder who in the police ministry and police management benefit from organised crime and had direct links with the Kinnear assassination,” said Cameron.