Citizens suffer while criminals prosper
09 March 2021 – For immediate release
The current shambles facing the South African Police Services cannot be laid solely at the door of police commissioner General Khehla Sitole. Much the same as Riah Phiyega was made "the fall guy" for the Marikana massacre. (Phiyega, with a background in social sciences was catapulted into the senior operational post of the SAPS and expected to implement tactical decisions which ought to have been the province of a seasoned uniformed officer). It appears that the leadership of our country are content to observe a crisis steadily developing until it becomes a full-blown issue; and then they select someone to blame. It seems that General Sithole is to be held accountable for a mess that has been brewing since early in President Zuma's rule.
In the last week our media has been inundated with crisis after crisis at the door of SAPS:
- Ramaphosa considers suspending police commissioner Khehla Sitole (Times Live)
- Auditor-General finds SAPS "misstated" R2.2bn in IT assets - Auditor-General also found that the SAPS had understated the number of "lost, stolen and illegal" firearms, and that the number of identifiable stolen/lost SAPS firearms recovered had been "overstated". (Marianne Tham – Daily Maverick)
- The police have "lost" about 8-million pieces of evidence "after the computer system that helped detectives keep track of forensic samples collected at crime scenes was shut down due to a dispute over non-payment". (News 24, Financial Mail). "Since the computer system was shut down last June, detectives and forensic technicians can no longer say with certainty where the millions of pieces of evidence are, what tests are outstanding, and whether the evidence has been tampered with."
- Computerised Firearm register of Police Firearms (which contains details of 500,000 police firearms) was also shut down over the same non-payment dispute.
- JP Smith says persistence of illegal firearms in Cape Town is "hugely problematic" (Cape Argus) This in connection with a man arrested with an unlicensed firearm: "When staff arrived at Philippi police station with the suspect, they discovered that the firearm they found in his possession is listed as having been destroyed. This is hugely problematic," Smith said. "... it is disheartening that firearms that are meant to be taken out of circulation are still on our streets. More concerning is that SAPS closed its latest firearm amnesty period last month, with citizens believing they are helping us by handing in these firearms for destruction".
- A parliamentary committee has demanded to know why a Joburg woman was refused a firearm licence because she wore a headscarf. (IOL) The chairperson of the portfolio committee on police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, has sought urgent answers as to why Maleeka Sayed's gun licence application was denied.
- Rogue Crime Intelligence cops "bug" News24 investigative journalist (News24)
Meanwhile since February 1st there are still around 350,000 "white-licence" holders who are now de facto in possession of unlicensed firearms. As Safe Citizen has previously written, the police leadership were warned about this for years (after purposely disabling the Central Firearms Registry (CFR) computer system for licence renewals) but ignored offers of assistance from the licensed firearm dealers. On top of this, the police in late 2020 made known their intent to challenge the "Green-Licence" 2009 High Court Order of Judge Prinsloo which if the challenge were to be successful would add another 500,000 to 600,000 "green-licences" to the 350,000 "white-licences".
All of this in a state of affairs where the firearms administration capacity of the CFR is buckling under strain with qualified and competent citizens regularly waiting a year or longer for a licence, which was ordered by Parliament to be completed in 90 working days. And finally, it is being reported in media that yet another firearm amnesty is being considered by Minister Cele. This despite the last two amnesties being failures in terms of getting criminal guns off the street. The majority of licensed firearms handed in have been the subject of applications for renewal of licence. Safe Citizen has always maintained that an amnesty is a mechanism to recover unlicensed guns in criminal hands – not a way to deal with the mess in CFR created by the police leadership – a mess in which law-abiding citizens are suffering.
It is time for President Ramaphosa to intervene in this crisis in a meaningful way – firing one person will not fix SAPS.
Enquiries pertaining to this statement
- Jonathan Deal - 076-838-5150 - or on WhatsApp / firstname.lastname@example.org
A group of concerned citizens will visit Parliament on Wednesday 10th March to hand over a letter to the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson in connection with the issues raised in the above media statement. Enquiries to Gideon Joubert 083-625-4333