WATCH | I've seen some bad stuff, says Michael Sun, the man tasked with restoring law to Joburg streets

11 July 2019 - 14:01 By Nonkululeko Njilo

"Stop! Stop! Get down."

Police yell the instruction. A man in a red shirt raises his hands. The contents of a black bag retrieved from his trousers spill on to the pavement. He looks worried.

Michael Sun, the politician paid to restore the rule of law in Johannesburg, presents the suspect with a pair of handcuffs.

"We need to get every single drug dealer off the street. I don't care what they sell, they are harming our children, they are harming our youth," says Sun in a video of a crime-prevention operation he shared on Tuesday.

Johannesburg's MMC for public safety is not afraid to get his hands dirty.

"I've seen some bad stuff that I will remember even when I'm really old," he told TimesLIVE in an interview on Thursday.

"On one occasion, we were conducting a raid at a certain house. We were shocked that it was a drug den, where young girls were used for prostitution, girls as young as 11 years old … they were so terrified … that broke my heart."

Sun is outspoken about his passion for tackling crime and lawlessness. It persuaded him to give up his job as an attorney and focus his energy on being a public-safety official.  

Born in 1973, he has been in active politics since 2005 and has no regrets about switching careers.

Sun holds a Baccalaureus Procurationis degree (B.Proc) from the University of SA (Unisa), a higher diploma in tax law and an advanced certificate in municipal governance from the University of Johannesburg.

Asked why he'd switched careers, he said: "I have personal hate for crime and lawlessness."

Sun served as a Johannesburg councillor from 2006.

He said he did lots of commercial work as an attorney and his legal background had assisted him tremendously in his political career. 

"They are totally different things, but my legal background has assisted me a lot in understanding the law, processes, criminal litigation, etc etc," he said.

Known for his hands-on approach, Sun said when he was first elected as an MMC he vowed to be visible on the ground and to support his team. 

"I sat down with my team and told them I didn't want to be an MMC that sat down in meetings and boardrooms every day. Of course, I would do that when needed, but our work requires us to be on the ground," he said.  

We adopted a strong stance that if someone is caught committing any wrongdoing or crime they'd be fired
Public safety MMC Michael Sun

For years there was a scourge of corrupt officials in the city, including Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officers accused of demanding bribes from motorists. But that is slowly changing.

Asked what had changed, Sun said mindset. 

"We said to ourselves change would start with us, we would root out corruption within our organisations first.

"We adopted a strong stance that if someone is caught committing any wrongdoing or crime they'd be fired," he said.  

"No crime is too small or too big" is Sun's daily mantra when performing his duties.  

He is excited about having a dedicated team of officials in communication with the SA Police Service (Saps) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to discuss cases brought forward by his office.

Community members often complained when suspects returned home because they had not been prosecuted for their crimes. Sun wants that to change. 

"We certainly want to see progress following arrests. We want a high rate of convictions and not to drop the ball," he added.