Amid rising crime and violence and continuing tensions between SAPS units in the Western Cape which has crippled law enforcement in the region, Police Minister Bheki Cele has stepped in. Cele has announced that the mandate of the Anti-Gang Unit will now be extended nationally and that the SAPS’s investigative capacity will be boosted.
Cele made the announcement on 26 June 2019 amid continuing pressure to deal with endemic corruption in SAPS as well as internecine factionalism within the country’s law enforcement agencies.
In a statement, Cele announced that the move was in response “directly to the scourge of gangsterism”. He said the Anti-Gang Unit, which to date has operated only in the Western Cape, would be elevated to a national division. Other specialised units will also be introduced.
“This unit will extend its mandate and deal with other crimes of fear that are terrorising our communities,” Cele said.
These included “murder, rape, car hijackings, house robberies, house burglaries and cash-in-transit heists”.
Cele also announced that a new Detective Academy is to be established in an attempt to further strengthen, clean up and bolster the capacity of SAPS and that the new plan included the intention to “fully capacitate investigators with sufficient resources and relevant manpower”.
“Co-operation between prosecutors and investigators through prosecutorial guided investigation will be intensified to improve the success rate of all priority cases.”
Over and above this, Cele said that the establishment of specialised courts would be enhanced “in order to promote the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system”.
Amid calls for the DPCI, which is riddled with dodgy appointments made by former disgraced head Mthandazo Ntlemeza, Cele said that the Hawks were indeed “making inroads in curbing economic crimes”.
“To date, 1,800 dockets have been submitted to the NPA for determination,” he said.
He added that “continuous reports of alleged police corruption is receiving attention” and that the appointment of the IPID head “is currently underway”.
This “New Dawn” policing approach, Cele added, “will align with the new crime patterns of enhancing resources in combatting economic crimes, stabilising the troubled trucking industry and tackling illegal mining”.
“The specialised, focused policing will also extend to support the specialised task teams focusing on political killings, police killings, high-profile killings, high-profile cases and taxi-related killings.”
Cele said a “72-hour activation plan” was gaining momentum and that this plan “mobilises maximum resources to ensure that preliminary investigation is done thoroughly and to guarantee that no evidence is lost and perpetrators are expeditiously brought to book. This was done at the backdrop of the spike in cash-in-transit heist which dropped drastically in 2018.”
Western Cape activist, Colin Arendse, who has been at the forefront of highlighting the power play in the Western Cape, told Daily Maverick that the announcement suggested that Cele had “check-mated” National Commissioner Khehla Sitole.
Sitole appears to have been unwilling or unable to deal with tensions between the Anti-Gang Unit, launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018, and rival units that had been set up and that have operated in direct competition, depleting resources of other units. DM