Mashatile tells MPs he has ‘full confidence’ in Cele, police commissioner despite rising crime
Despite increasing crime rates in South Africa, Deputy President Paul Mashatile on Thursday expressed his full confidence in police minister Bheki Cele, his deputy Cassell Mathale and national commissioner Gen Fannie Masemola.
His statements come after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office on Thursday announced the deployment of 3,300 soldiers to assist the police clampdown on illegal mining activities.
He was responding to a question asked by the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu, who had probed Mashatile on rising crime levels, “increased lawlessness” and the police’s “incapacity to deal with crime in the country”.
Shivambu also asked about the police’s performance under the leadership of Masemola.
Mashatile told the National Assembly that as part of the government's efforts to assess progress in its programmes he and Ramaphosa have been meeting cabinet ministers and their deputies, directors-general and heads of department.
“In this regard the president and I have had the opportunity to also meet the minister, deputy and commissioner of police to brief us on the work that they are doing and plans they have in fighting crime in South Africa.
“The ministry is implementing Operation Shanela, a comprehensive plan to combat crime throughout the country. The plan includes clamping down on illegal mining and other serious crimes.
“The SAPS has established specialised units to work with business, private security, state owned enterprises to tackle illegal mining, the construction mafia, cable theft, vandalism of economic infrastructure and gender-based violence.”
Mashatile said police minister Bheki Cele also announced that recruits are being enlisted to increase the capacity of the police with 10,000 new trainees graduating with more joining in the next financial years, bringing the total number to 30,000 new police officers.
“A total of 1,000 of the newly recruited personnel have been ring-fenced to increase the capacity of public order policing (POP), who by the end of October this year received an additional 4,000 members resulting from this recruitment drive.”
Mashatile said he had confidence in Cele, his deputy and the national commissioner and all the officers right to the lowest ranking officers.
He said the police have been working with municipal police in an integrated manner and not in silos.
ANC MP Cyril Xaba asked what progress had been made to deal with lawlessness and to restore confidence in the country’s crime-fighting structures.
Mashatile said Ramaphosa has made sure that a number of initiatives were implemented to deal with serious crimes.
“There are other pieces of legislation that are in place to ensure that combating this serious criminal activities including corruption.”
Asked what conversation he was having with Cele to curb police brutality, Mashatile said: “Members of the police are being continuously trained.
“The discussions we had with the minister of police indicate that this is happening. From time to time you may have challenges as we deal with implementation for everyone who adorns the uniform of the police who is not properly trained, and sometimes they deal with difficult matters out there.”
Mashatile added he was confident the police would continue to follow the law and in instances where they don’t, there would be consequences. “They know that if they don’t behave in a manner that is lawful, they will face consequences as required by the law.”
The deputy president said in his meeting with Ramaphosa, Cele briefed them on the capacity problem.
“Yes, let’s put in the specialised units to face these challenges, there are armed robberies around the country, burglaries, gender-based violence and illegal mining. So the specialised units are being formed and are given training and necessary support and equipment to use.”
He said the police should also be equipped with high-tech equipment so they are ahead of criminals.
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