Deployment of SAPS specialised units commended

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pretoria - Crime experts have welcomed the deployment of Special Task Force and Response Tactical Team members to local police stations, calling it "a right move" for government.

Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa yesterday announced that the South African Police Service (SAPS) would be deploying members of the task force and tactical team to provide operational and tactical support at the grass roots level.

Analysts have expressed their confidence in this decision but emphasized that it would need strategic coordination to ensure that the units work cooperatively to stamp out criminals.

Dr Johan Burger, analyst at the Institute for Security Studies, told BuaNews that the need to have special force teams in areas where crime is prevalent was long overdue.

"This is a good move indeed and hopefully the deployment of these units will stabilise crime and boost the moral of police officers at the grass roots level.

"In residential and business areas there is a high risk of crime and this requires specialised units to give tactical and operational support which still lacks in our police stations.

"The normal police are not capable to overcome heavily armed criminals, thus with the support of the units perhaps we will start seeing positive results," Burger explained.

He reiterated that in South Africa one was forced to take this approach because criminals were tactical in their operations and were always armed with dangerous and heavy ammunition.

Political analyst Professor Mari Harris told BuaNews that the deployment of these units was a "right move", adding the government has shown its willingness in fighting crime.

"However, it's going to take time to reach the target that the government has set. People will want to see results and then we will be certain that our safety is guaranteed.

"Perhaps their turnaround strategy will have a positive influence. This will also need a continuous strategic coordination from the government to ensure that positive results are identified," she said.

According to Mthethwa, the deployment of these units was part of the turnaround strategy adopted after the release of crime statistics last week, and is intended to enhance techniques aimed at fighting crime.

"You have seen the crime statistics released last week; we have made a decision that we will be deploying these units to our communities to work together with the visible police force.

"We'll be deploying them to residential areas where house robberies are taking place. We will also deploy them in some business areas, particularly in informal and small business - in line with what the statistics have said," the minister explained.

Mthethwa had expressed great concern with the crime statistics which showed that house robberies had during the last financial year increased by 27.3%. He said this was one of the issues that would receive government's "most serious attention"

Crime statistics released for the period 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009, also showed that the number of reported business robbery cases increased by a staggering 41.5% when compared to the previous year.