Meeting with police was productive - Presidency

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pretoria - The Presidency has described the meeting between President Jacob Zuma and police station commanders as productive and frank.

"The representatives of the police were able to raise their issues and concerns without reservation," said a statement from the Presidency after the meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting was aimed at discussing the plans and vision that will help in government's war against crime.

One of the issues raised was the lack of coordination between the police and the justice department. The police found that their effectiveness was being undermined by the ease with which suspects and even repeat offenders get bail, lengthy trials, low rates of conviction, and corruption.

A number of provinces have had problems with the misalignment of jurisdictions between police stations and Magistrate's Courts and other courts.

"They raised problems with the availability of resources for police work. A number of provinces, particularly rural provinces, raised problems of the shortage of police stations and the large areas that a single station is supposed to service.

"There was also concern about the physical state of police stations, some without electricity or toilets, and the availability of resources such as vehicles," the Presidency said.

Station Commanders also raised concern around the role that social problems play in contributing to crime, the effects of poverty and the impact of rapid urbanisation on crime levels in the major centres.

Drug and alcohol abuse was also cited as a significant contributing factor to high crime rates. Some raised the proliferation of guns as another major problem.

The Presidency said some provinces had observed that underdevelopment of residential areas make the work of the police more difficult. The lack of tarred roads, street names and house numbers in many parts of the country makes it difficult for police to respond quickly to emergency calls.

"Cross-border crime was raised as a challenge, requiring more effective border control measures and better cooperation between SAPS and police in neighbouring states."

One of the issues repeatedly raised was the position of children, both as victims of crime and as perpetrators of crime.

The meeting also suggests a need for the building of additional safety centres and the employment of greater numbers of social workers and other specialised professionals.

The Presidency said issues of discipline, morale and capacity within the police force was also raised.

"Among other things, this means that greater attention needs to be paid to recruitment processes and the training of new recruits. Police have to undertake duties that are not core policing functions, covering work that is supposed to be done by the social development, health or justice departments," the Presidency explained.

At the meeting, President Zuma urged the station commanders to intensify the fight against crime, saying that it cannot be business as usual

"We urge you here and now, to dedicate yourselves to work with us to develop new culture and ethos within the police force. Let us work towards developing a new police force," he said.

He said absenteeism, laziness and tardiness in the discharge of duties must be a thing of the past.