Graskop incident shows residents’ total loss of confidence in SAPS

Issued by Okkie Terblanche MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Police
09 May 2023 in News

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbite by Okkie Terblanche MP

From the Western Cape to Limpopo, South Africans have made it clear that they have lost confidence in Bheki Cele’s police service. The incident in Graskop, Mpumalanga where residents chased the local SAPS commander out of town and chained up the SAPS station, shows the frustration felt by residents across the country.

This follows the recent criminal attack in Graskop, where a gang of criminals held the small-town hostage while SAPS officers hid in their offices. This incident is not an isolated one and indicates the incompetence and under-resourcing of small town and rural police stations. It underscores the urgent need for action and improved policing in small towns across South Africa.

The complete failure of SAPS to act is nothing more than a terrible indictment against the management of SAPS in the area and of the Provincial Commissioner. SAPS members in Mpumalanga should have been trained well enough and equipped sufficiently to have swiftly dealt with this gang.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is committed to ensuring that policing in small towns is taken seriously and that residents in these areas are safe and protected. The DA will be contacting the provincial commissioner to demand the removal of the local commander in Graskop, and to ensure that a capable and competent commander is appointed to protect the town. We will also ensure that the provincial commissioner accounts to the Provincial Legislature in Mpumalanga so that residents can rest assured that their concerns are being taken seriously.

The police do not have the capabilities and resources to fight crime and keep citizens safe. Under Bheki Cele, the police force has become a shadow of its former self. Last week Cele himself admitted as much when he made the call to President Ramaphosa to send in the army after ongoing conflict and violence in KwaMajola, near Port St Johns.

It is time for policing in small towns and rural areas to be taken seriously in South Africa. The DA will continue to push for improved resources and support for policing and will hold those in charge accountable for their actions. We urge Minister Bheki Cele to prioritize the safety of all citizens and take concrete steps to address the incompetence and under-resourcing of police stations. Only then can we ensure that all South Africans, regardless of where they live, are safe and protected.