Stronger community partnerships needed in fight against crime

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, says the fight against crime requires a healthy relationship between the police and the communities they serve. 

The Minister dedicated his Budget Vote speech on Tuesday to rebuilding and strengthening community relations in the fight against crime when he appeared before a mini-plenary of the National Assembly on Tuesday.  

“We are advocating for progressive change. Communities must be able to say these are our police and the police must equally embrace communities and continue to serve and protect,” he said. 

Cele said Community Policing Forums (CPFs), business and the police must establish and maintain a partnership with the community, and promote communication between the police and the community. 

“[They] furthermore [must] promote cooperation and ensure that the police fulfil the needs of the community in respect of policing, improve the service of the police to the community, improve transparency and accountability of the SAPS, and promote joint problem identification and problem solving. 

“The philosophy of community policing is not new. In fact, it has been proven that the more involved law enforcement is with the residents they are sworn to protect, the more residents can help police achieve their goals of reducing crime.” 

To date, there are currently 772 functional CPFs countrywide. 

Cele said the death of over 300 people during the week-long lawlessness in July last year will remain one of the darkest times in the country’s democratic history. 

He said the unrest called for clear reforms of security services and at the same time, exposed the divide between the police and the communities they serve. 

“The police needed the community and the community needed the police. But it was clear community policing was at its weakest and there was little to no trust between the police and the communities. 

“The July 2021 unrests that engulfed South Africa posed a serious security threat to the country’s economy and highlighted some security gaps in intelligence-driven collaboration between the private security industry and other government law enforcement agencies.” 

The Minister said in responding decisively to the July unrests, a total of 19 instigators of violence were arrested including those who meted out untold brutality to another race group, under the disguise of defending their community and property during the unrest. 

“To date, 36 suspects have been arrested for their alleged respective roles in the murder of 35 people and 31 people have been arrested for attempted murder in Phoenix. 

“Meanwhile, the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority [PSiRA] has conducted an analysis to determine what went wrong and what needs to be improved in terms of the private security industry’s involvement as a force-multiplier in the fight against crime and the protection of the country’s economy. 

“PSiRA believes that a concerted effort in building relations between the industry and other law enforcement agencies in terms of information gathering and sharing will go a long way in preventing similar incidents in the future.” 

Cele said in line with the many improvements to follow, the collaboration of PSiRA, SAPS and the State Security Agency will see the authority launching a mandatory counter-terrorism awareness campaign in the form of 40 hours of training for the private security industry in the next two quarters of this financial year. 

“PSiRA and SAPS will collaborate to ensure a practical working relationship between the private security industry and State Security agencies, in line with the established and existing partnership frameworks.” – SAnews.gov.za

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