COSATU statement on crime statistics

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is not shocked by the recent statistics that show that crime is rising in all categories in the country. The austerity cuts that have slowed down the rate or recruitment of the police officers since 2014 and the lack of adequate funding for law enforcement agencies is the source of this deterioration in safety standards.  Over the past 5 years the Saps head count has declined from over 192 000 to 172 000. The announcement of an additional 12 000 intake this year is welcome but not enough when compared to 10 000 expected retirements from the SAPS, a growing population and rising levels of crime. 

There is not enough that is being done to ensure that police have adequate resources to stem the tide of crime in the country.  

The conditions of our SAPS stations, broken vehicles, antiquated computers, a forensic backlog, a firearms registry riddled with corruption point to a SAPS that is badly under resourced and poorly managed.  

Parliament passes progressive laws empowering the Saps and NPA to tackle corruption, cable theft and other serious crimes. Yet they are rarely exercised by the SAPS and NPA. The inefficiencies in the courts and endless postponement of cases needs to be dealt with. 

Murder in this country in the country is part of the legacy of the apartheid system which enacted its laws not only through the courts but also through the apartheid police force, hit squads and sponsored vigilante groups.

The Federation is also troubled that South Africa seems to be ill prepared to deal with the new phenomenon of cybercrime. The internet has almost become universal and the most used form of personal communication and commerce. Many people apply online, access services online, some bank online do many transactions online.

This has led to the internet becoming a battleground of criminal gangs who are looking at it as a fertile ground to commit crimes and engage in anti-social behaviour. Criminal organisations in South Africa have become sophisticated and some engage in activities that cause harm to individuals, organisations, and government in the form of extortion, blackmail, spreading of viruses, malware, and ransom.

Many corporations and government infrastructure have poor security control regarding cybercrimes. Internet crime is a serious national security threats in South Africa because it is profitable and widespread.

Many of the basic and critical services like electric power, finance, telecommunication, health care, transport, water supply and education are increasingly accessed through the internet. The rise in the number of people who use e-commerce for their shopping, and e-banking services means that criminal organisation are finding it attractive and lucrative.

A new strategic approach is essential to implement technology to support the work of those entrusted with investigating, detecting, and combating internet crime. But the success or failure of new methodologies will be dependent on the basic training that is given to the police, as they enter the service. It is critical that such training be placed at the heart of the curriculum of the planned Police University in Hammanskraal. 

The Federation is also concerned about the scourge of Gender Based Violence in the country. COSATU strongly believes that the defeat of crime, especially crimes committed against women and children requires strong mobilization by progressive forces in our society, a commitment to challenge misconceptions about rape through education and a dedication from government and various facets of the criminal justice system in the fight against patriarchy. 

The issue of leadership in the police service is also a matter that deserve a lot of attention if South Africa is to win the fight against crime. Police are dealing with numerous and ever-changing situations and to navigate them, they need leaders to provide guidance. Leaders need to ensure that they manage changes in culture and technology and expectations from police officers in the process of achieving the set goals.

This calls for a people-centred approach leadership that ensures that police officers commit to a shared vision and goals for the organization. Commitment, honesty, integrity, and humility are critical in building an effective police force.

Issued by COSATU      

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794