Police considers reintroducing specialized units

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Police is considering reintroducing the Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units after they were transferred to local police stations in 2006.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Tuesday said the closure of these units had led to significant debate regarding the need for certain types of crimes to be addressed by people with specialised knowledge and experience.

"Some of this knowledge and experience can only be acquired through direct engagements in such areas. The ministry is currently considering the reintroduction of some of these specialized units, in particular the Child Protection Unit and Sexual Offences Units," the minister said.

In 2006, the units were devolved to local police stations, because it was believed that increased oversight of their work strengthened their provision of services to communities.

Minister Mthethwa said today, the move to reintroduce the units was part of efforts to deal with crimes perpetrated against women and children.

"Violence against women and children is still prevalent in South Africa and government has to respond to the situation effectively," he said.

He maintained that this phenomenon militated government's national effort to create a caring and humane society, underpinned by values of human solidarity, justice, peace and development.

Meanwhile, the Police Department, together with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will soon table amendments to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The amendments are aimed at giving police a free hand to deal with criminals accordingly.

National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele said these changed sections would give police the power to respond more appropriately to dangerous criminals.

"These criminals are planning for weeks and one of their intentions is to eliminate whoever interrupts their plans. They carry big guns and police cannot just smile if criminals shoot at them. You can only smile if someone shoots with a camera but not a gun," he said.

However, Mthethwa added that this did not mean police had a license to kill.

"We must hasten to say that trigger happy members of the police must not think that this is a license to kill. It is a measure aimed specifically at serious violent crime and dangerous criminals," the minister emphasized.

He said he had met with Justice and Constitutional Development Minister, Jeff Radebe, to further discuss the amendment, saying that they were both seized with the matter.