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Remarks by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP on the Occasion of the Opening of the Tweefontein Police Station, Tweefontein, Mpumalanga.
21 February 2014

Minister of Public Works, Mr Thulas Nxesi;
Mpumalanga MEC for Community Safety, Security and Liaison, Mr Vusi Shongwe;
Director General of Public Works, Mr Mziwonke Dlabantu;
Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, Lieutenant General Kehla Sithole;
Acting Mayor of Thembisile Hani Local Municipality, Ms Lillian Shabangu;
Chairperson of Kwa Fene Traditional, iNkosi Masilela;
Amakhosi from various Traditional Authorities present;
SAPS Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major General Christina Sithole;
All Senior SAPS officers;
Ward Councillor for Ward 17, Ms Daisy Msibi;
Mpumalanga Provincial CPF Chairperson Mr Kevin Pillay;
Distinguished Guests;
Community of Tweefontein and surrounding areas;
Members of the media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

One of the fundamental pillars in the fight against crime is partnerships.  Partnerships which are government-led but involving a variety of different stakeholders who share our common vision, in which all South Africans are and feel safe from crime.

In an effort of ensuring that such partnerships are effective, we took a conscious decision as the Ministry of Police to interact, work with the broader society and other organs of civil society.  We further established a Partnership unit within the Civilian Secretariat for Police so that we formalize these partnerships and cooperative agreements.

For this reason, almost on a weekly basis we are out of office meeting with communities.  We do so, not because there are problems, but as part of entrenching and harmonizing police-community relations.  During such interactions the most prominent need which we get confronted with, is a need for building of new police stations. 

As a government that cares, we are intertwined with communities on the need for building police stations.  We also recognize that building of a police station is an important factor in crime-reduction, however are equally cognizant that a building or a structure cannot reduce crime.  The foundation of our crime reduction strategy is therefore entrenched around strong community-police partnerships. 

Today, our presence at Tweefontein should be premised along this philosophy.  We are aware that some skeptics may attempt without success, to mislead you as community members that we came here as police and public works leadership to campaign for votes, since we are in an election period.  Do not be misled by prophets of doom.

We are here to deliver on the promises made by the democratic government that you as residents, voted into power.  We are here to handover the Tweefontein police to you as residents.  This is not a police station that belongs to the Minister of Police or the Minister of Public Works.  It belongs to you.

We will therefore not be apologetic when we fulfill our promises as government.  Service delivery from the ANC-led government is not a seasonal mandate but something that we have consistently done over the last 5 years of the current administration, under President Jacob Zuma.

The issues of safety cannot be apportioned to police alone. We have seen across the country some of most heinous crimes being committed against children.  To demonstrate this point, on the day when two toddlers, who were mutilated and murdered, were discovered; the very same day police arrested a mother who had neglected her kids and gone to a shebeen.  The sentiment however in the public was that blame was apportioned on police.

We need to collectively apportion some of the safety challenges to the broader society and intergovernmental cooperation.  Parents must parent.  Guardians must guard.  And yes, police will police.  We therefore urge you as the community of Tweefontein to play your part.

What these challenges and factors speak to, is a need for a multi-disciplinary approach because they are multi-faceted challenges to start with.  Social issues that impact on the moral fiber of society cannot be solved by police alone, but all of us as society.

In addition, we are also aware of some of challenges which impede effective policing include the fact that there are many stray animals on provincial roads which cause fatal accidents.  In addition lack of mechanical transport makes it difficult to implement sector policing effectively.  Furthermore the poor road conditions contribute to negative impact on policing service delivery to the community.

If one introspects such matters, it is clear that they are infrastructural challenges and not policing matters per se.  In fact in some instance police are expected to police areas which have no street lights or houses that are not numbered.   All these factors become local government functions and responsibility.

The other challenge, which we are correcting, is around police demarcations.  We want to correct some of the past legacies which, demarcated police stations by prioritizing others at the expense of others. 
To demonstrate this point, with the current policy framework, when a victim of crime comes to particular police station to report crime, they get told they need to report at another station, which may be a certain kilometres in terms of jurisdiction.  As the government that cares, we want to ensure that our citizens are able to report crime at police stations that are nearer to them.
To the police management in the province and in particular, to the station commander at Tweenfontein, our message to you is clear: serve the community with dedication and commitment.  We urge you to strengthen relations with this community.

We have consistently reiterated that police stations are not tourist attractions.  People do not come to police stations for a ‘courtesy visit’ or to pay a social call.  They are here because they have problems, they are victims and therefore we need to sensitive to their psychological state of minds.

Treat them with care and humility.  It should not be seen or interpreted as a favour to serve victims of crime.  To this end, when we speak of Batho Pele principles we should demonstrate through actions and not simply through words. 

Whenever we go around the country handing over police stations to communities, we constantly impress that police stations are the face of our policing effort.  The kind of treatment or service you give, as police officers, to citizens leaves lasting impressions not only about the particular station, but about police service as a whole.   Whatever treatment you give to this community, becomes a reflection on the entire South African Police Service.

In the new police stations that we build and those that are refurbished, we make sure that there are special dedicated areas for the victims of such crimes.  A working relationship with the Judiciary has been established to have such cases prioritized.  This decision is, by and large, influenced by our prioritization to end violence against women, children and the elderly.

We have seen over the past months some of disturbing and gory incidents of such violence.  A greater proportion of murders, rapes and other crimes take place among acquaintances, particularly in poor communities where living conditions challenges a decent family and social life.  Abuse and rape are not philosophical forms of crimes but to a large extent, socio-economically motivated. 

Our crime analysis and trends indicate that approximately 80% of such crimes occur amongst acquaintances.   In the main such incidents become difficult for police to ‘police’ and deal with such crimes because they happen within the confines of homes.  The suppression and secrecy veils still remain challenges and we can only encourage victims to break the silence.  On the side of the police, we shall continue to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested and face the full might of the law.

We are equally aware that some of the criminals, who torment communities, live within the very same communities.   A further challenge facing the police is that often times, communities do not come forward with information when required to.  In some instances some of these criminals are even idolized for their criminal actions.

We have seen some unsavory and disturbing trends where, criminals burn government property or even petrol-bomb police stations.  We want to utilize this occasion to give a stern warning that we shall not tolerate lawlessness and anarchy.  There is no justification, no matter how unhappy you are about certain service delivery issues, that people must resort to violence in order to make a point. 

As the government that upholds freedom of expression, we recognize a right to express grievances through public protests.  In fact, if the protests are peaceful, orderly and non-violent, there would be no need for police presence at these protests.
We need to underscore the point that whereas the Constitution permits unarmed and peaceful protests, the abuse of this right becomes a serious matter when participants take up arms and use unnecessary violence, which requires urgent attention and action from SAPS.
Whilst the police have a responsibility to police gatherings within the framework of the law, the Gatherings Act confers considerable responsibilities on conveners or organizers of events to ensure that such events are carried out in an orderly and peaceful manner.  Any contravention of this must result in the organizers facing criminal charges.

We want to reiterate a call to members of society to refrain from carrying dangerous weapons during public protests.  We urge them to protest peacefully without any damage to property, attacks on innocent people and attacks on police.
As we conclude we want say since 1994, we have been making steady progress in the fight against crime. This period has been characterized by growing unity in action against crime, a period focused on improving life conditions for all, especially the poor. 
As government we remain committed partner with communities to find solutions to the challenges of poverty, social security and social development challenges.

We now officially hand-over the Tweefontein police station to the community of Tweefontein and surrounding areas. 

I thank you all.

For enquiries, please contact:

Zweli Mnisi
Spokesperson to the Minister of Police
Ministry of Police
Mobile: +27 (0)82 045 4024

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