Police willing to learn from society - Mthethwa

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pretoria - Determined to make inroads in the fight against crime, the police were prepared to learn lessons from any sector of society that was willing to share its ideas with them, says Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Speaking at an anti-crime conference in Kameeldrift, Pretoria on Saturday Mthethwa said that some of the SAPS's current crime combating strategies had arisen from its interactions with the religious and business sectors, communities and political parties.

"A challenge we want to pose upfront to you, is that we do not come to you as experts who know better than you, but are open to engagement, to listen and to learn from each other," the minister told members of Kameeldrift's community and religious leaders.

He added that the interfaith community was an important sector in the regeneration of moral values and the implementation of government's crime combating programmes.

"We understand that the fight against crime requires an integrated approach which includes addressing decent values. The interfaith community teaches values of caring and sharing and promotes upright and moral citizens," he added.

Partnering with interfaith groups would spearhead government goals of combating crime, Mthethwa said.

He added that the Police Ministry had recently established a specialised unit within the Secretariat of Police to focus on such partnerships.

Highlighting governments stepped up efforts in the fight against crime, Mthethwa said government was working towards a new modernised, efficient and transformed criminal justice system and was reviewing the functions of police to integration and coordinations.

"(We) have begun increasing the capacity of the SAPS through recruitment, rigorous, better remuneration, equipping and increasing the capacity of detective services, forensics, prosecution, judicial services and crime intelligence," the minister said.

He added that emphasis would be placed on quality rather than quantity when it came to recruiting new members as the Ministry sought to develop police officers who had the necessary qualifications, education, physical and operational skills to help with the fight against crime.

Government is also doing its bit to ensure a more equitable distribution of police resources among townships, suburbs, urban and rural areas. Measures in place to achieve this include training and literacy programmes to upgrade the skills of police officers.

The country's borders had also been given special attention and strengthened with the army being deployed at all borders, the minister said.

Mthethwa encouraged the Kameeldrift community to get involved in their Community Policing Forum (CPF), saying the public needed to active participants in deciding matters of safety and security.

He warned those that used CPFs as "springboards to launch political campaigns and propaganda" that such acts would not be tolerated.

The minister urged the community to work with police to apprehend criminals and not to harbor them. He also called for a review of the moral regeneration campaigns.

"Whilst forums such as these are vital, we must guard against easily turning them into talk shows. Let us together develop pragmatic programmes which will influence the community of Kameeldrift to effectively deal with the drug scourge, house and business robberies and crime in general," Mthethwa said.