Bheki Cele’s call for army in Port St Johns an admission of SAPS’ failure

Issued by Andrew Whitfield MP – DA Shadow Minister of Police
02 May 2023 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

The call by Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to deploy the army to villages surrounding Port St Johns is an admission of failure by the SAPS to effectively deal with rural crime.

Cele made the call to President Ramaphosa after ongoing conflict and violence in KwaMajola, near Port St Johns. At least 22 people have been killed and 140 homesteads burnt to the ground in the last 3 years, yet Bheki Cele has continued to do absolutely nothing in the area, despite the fact that this violence has spanned back decades.

He has now seemingly raised his hands in the air and given up. A true indictment of his record of his failed leadership since his appointment 5 years ago.

The SAPS launched its rural safety strategy in 2019 to much fanfare yet rural communities continue to be plagued by violent crime, most notably mass killings and increases in sexual offences, among others.

The violent crime tearing across these communities represents a complete and utter failure of the SAPS to police rural communities and to properly investigate crimes to ensure a high conviction rate. Where there are no consequences there will be uncontrolled crime.

The level of uncontrolled crime comes as no surprise as not a single rural Policing intervention which has been proposed or implemented by the SAPS has yielded positive results since 2019. In fact, in 2019, the DA even sent its comprehensive rural safety plan to the Minister to assist him, yet we received no response.

We have made sensible and immediately implementable proposals to curtail rural crime, yet the Minister chooses to play politics.

These proposals include:

  • The roll-out of tailored provincial and district rural safety plans across South Africa;
  • Address capacity and resource shortages in the specialised Stock Theft Units;
  • The establishment of Rural Safety Units (“RSU”) together with the introduction of Rural Community Policing Units comprising of community volunteers to assist SAPS in rural sector policing;
  • Introduce RSUs within Metro Policing Units to respond to the needs of peri-urban and rural communities across Metros;
  • Implement a watching briefs program to ensure cases are sufficiently prosecuted; and
  • Introducing a Rural Crime Intelligence Component in the Crime Intelligence Division (CID) of SAPS.

People living in rural areas should not have to live in fear. The DA will be immediately calling for the Portfolio Committee on Police to call Cele and SAPS management to Parliament to explain the reason for their failure to protect these rural residents and for wanting to call for a de facto implementation of martial law.