Given the paltry 10% prosecution success rate of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the City of Johannesburg should be granted the power to prosecute and imprison offenders, says Mayor Herman Mashaba.
When the Johannesburg Metro Police Department arrests someone and they are back on the streets the next day, they will not be afraid to commit another crime, Mashaba said at the City’s announcement of monthly crime statistics.
Since Section 179 of the Constitution gives only the NPA the powers “to institute criminal proceedings on behalf of the state”, there is not much local municipalities can do with criminals but hand them over to the criminal justice system, said Mashaba.
The mayor says the City has given the NPA “60 serious cases” to prosecute, but “no demonstrable action has been taken so far”. The monthly crime statistics are intended to put the national criminal justice system under pressure to act on the information given, he says.
“Those with responsibility to do something about crime simply refuse to do so,” said the mayor.
Since Operation Buya Mthetho has become the City’s crime prevention strategy, the mayor has implemented multiple raids and arrests.
“The number one killer in the City of Johannesburg is driving under the influence,” said JPMD Chief Of Police David Tembe.
The were 664 cases of people driving under the influence in September — 480 from the Sandton/Alexandra region. The number of drunk driving cases reached 2,038 in the three months from July to September.
A total 25 raids were made on derelict buildings, with 12 arrests in September, and 670 vehicles impounded — 656 were ultimately released.
According to Tembe, the JMPD has implemented a “no more cold drink” policy to discourage police officers from taking bribes from motorists.
There are 76 cases of bribery, corruption and insubordination involving JMPD personnel.
Since the four shifts system was implemented — where officers serve for two nights and two days, and take four days off — there has been a significant improvement in the performance of JMPD officers.
The top six crimes:
Ten firearms were confiscated in September — a total of 38 were confiscated in the July-September period.
Seven false vehicle licence discs were found in September — 21 in July-September.
Drug-related arrests by the city’s K-9 drug unit totalled 79.
Thirteen arrests involving stolen motor vehicles were made in September — 35 in July-September.
There were 18 reckless driving cases in September — 69 in July-September.
Police arrested 664 people for driving under the influence in September — 2,030 in July-September.
Tembe agreed that JMPD and the City needed more powers to navigate the criminal justice system.
“Some criminals arrested for drugs only get a R3,000 fine regardless of the people they have killed with those drugs,” said Tembe.
Mashaba says that the nine mayoral priorities highlighted in order to grow the economy of Johannesburg by 5% by 2021 cannot be achieved in “an environment of chaos”.
“We must turn the inner city into a construction site and attract investors,” said Mashaba.
“That is why the City’s biggest budget allocation was in recruiting 1,600 police officers who are in training to start by June 2019. We have to admit that the situation at the moment is not normal and denial is not helpful,” said Mashaba.
In order to turn things around, it was necessary to take a stance that was deemed as confrontational, as it would not help to “fold our arms and just pass more by-laws”.
It is for this reason that the mayor believes the City should have powers to prosecute and run its own prisons.
“Our residents don’t care that there are different government agencies with different responsibilities. They only care that crime is stopped and they are kept safe,” said Mashaba.
When Mashaba took office he vowed to re-open municipal courts to deal mostly with enforcing the City’s by-laws.
However, that project has not taken off, with the mayor admitting they have“discovered some challenges in the process”, largely because law enforcement agencies need to be trained and magisterial districts have been reconfigured. DM
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