Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko says government is working towards fighting crime from a different angle, one that takes into account societal issues, which influence the spread of crime.
Delivering his Budget Vote, the Minister said crime could not be divorced from the extreme poverty that many communities face.
For government’s approach to work and for the root causes of crime to be dealt with, buy-in would be needed from communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), organs of state, business, research and tertiary institutions, he added.
Minister Nhleko said police would continue to focus on reducing the number of serious crimes, cross-border and cyber crime, stabilising public protests and enhancing local police capability.
“We commit the SAPS [South Africa Police Service] to community engagement, listening and being one with the people that we serve. We are also obliged to fight crime and restore the citizens’ faith and trust in our law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system.”
The Minister said as part of professionalising the police service, changes would be made to the recruitment strategy of entry level constables to ensure that only the best-suited candidates are hired.
The new recruits are being taken through rigorous testing for suitability before they start formal training.
Minister Nhleko explained that this community- based recruitment strategy is aimed at addressing challenges such as pending and or previous convictions, fraudulent qualifications and to avoid nepotism.
SAPS will also ensure that its current members are taken through rigorous sessions to understand the code of conduct.
“Our approach on professionalising the police service will contribute to the zero-tolerance towards corruption and nepotism, and deliver the calibre of a police official, who will serve the people of this country with dignity and pride.”
In the past year, police made 1 392 856 crime prevention arrests, which included 818 322 arrests for serious crime and 574 534 for other crimes.
A further 1 218 arrests for serious organised crime, with a resultant 828 convictions, were reported by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks.
Police managed to secure convictions resulting in 1 110 life sentences imposed on 803 suspects for serious crimes such as murder, rape, business robbery, house robbery and armed robbery.
Government also established 947 Victim Friendly Rooms across all provinces, which were set up to encourage the reporting of cases of a personal nature, including trauma and sexual violence.
Minister Nhleko said the country faced many challenges and called on various sectors to be part of the fight against crime and corruption.
“We would like to engage business around the issues of scrap metal and second hand goods industry, its threat to the economic development of the country and their contribution in the fight against crime and corruption,” said the Minister.