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Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens get full police powers despite irregularities and complaints

Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens get full police powers despite irregularities and complaints
Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens. (Photo: Twitter / Gauteng Government)

Gauteng’s controversial Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens have been declared peace officers, meaning they will have the power of arrest and can carry a firearm. Recalling the role of apartheid-era special constables, or ‘kitskonstabels’, independent policing expert David Bruce says there are ‘grounds for serious concern’.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services issued a short statement announcing its decision on an application by the Gauteng provincial government for the controversial Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens (GCPWs) to be declared peace officers and given formal legal powers under the Criminal Procedure Act. 

According to the statement: “After conducting a thorough analysis of the applicable legal frameworks, it was determined that for the Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens to exercise peace officer powers, they must assume the same legal status as Gauteng provincial traffic officers. Provincial traffic officers currently carry out their duties within the ambit of their peace officer designation, supported by the necessary legal framework.”

Read Daily Maverick’s investigations into the Crime Wardens: AmaPanyaza: Instructors claim they were not paid as Public Protector confirms investigation

Chrispin Phiri, spokesperson for Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, said these powers were set out in a Government Gazette published in July 2011. In a post on X, Phiri said that their powers “will be limited to the powers conferred upon [traffic officers] and, in principle, relate to the policing of traffic matters. 

“The policing of traffic matters falls within the power of a provincial government and this will allow the provincial government to retain control over the persons.”

However, the 2011 Gazette (see here and below) makes it clear that the GCPWs will have “all the powers conferred on a peace officer in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act”, as well as “all the powers conferred on a police official in terms of the CPA”.

This gamut of powers is extensive and includes the power of arrest and to carry a firearm.

According to the 2011 Gazette, a peace officer must have a certificate of appointment with their name, photograph, ID and the capacity in which they are appointed. But the Gazette says nothing about how peace officers must identify themselves publicly.   

The peace officer powers were set out in a Government Gazette published in July 2011.

The Ministry’s statement added: “Minister Lamola, having engaged both the Minister of Police and the Premier of Gauteng province, thanked all the stakeholders involved for their collaborative and constructive efforts.”

Lamola’s acknowledgement contrasts markedly with the attack on him and/or Police Minister Bheki Cele by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi in November.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Amapanyaza: Gauteng premier launches extraordinary attack on minister of police

On Tuesday night Lesufi welcomed the decision, saying “this announcement finally clarifies the uncertainty over the status of the Crime Prevention Wardens. [It] affirms what we have said all along, that the CPWs are a legal, well-equipped provincial law enforcement body that collaborates with other law enforcement organisations in the province. They operate under the supervision of the other law enforcement agencies, ie Gauteng Traffic and local authorities.”

Lesufi’s statement does not appear to appreciate that before any formal integration of the GCPWs can take place, a new Government Gazette must still be published.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Combating crime effectively and within the law – a response to Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi

Practical implications for policing unclear

It is also unclear as yet what the decision to place the GCPWs under the traffic department, and not the SAPS, means – if anything. Presumably, it means they will no longer be placed at police stations. 

Daily Maverick is seeking further clarity. 

David Bruce, a respected independent researcher on policing, commented: “The effect of the Minister of Justice’s announcement that the Crime Prevention Wardens may be established as peace officers … is that they may now exercise all the powers of traffic officers, and most of the powers of police officers. 

“While one may be inclined to welcome efforts to strengthen policing and reduce crime in South Africa, there are grounds for serious concern related to the probability that the wardens will be associated with corruption and other abuses of power. The manner in which they have been created, in the absence of any formal policy document setting out their intended role, appears reminiscent of the apartheid-era special constables, often referred to as ‘kitskonstabels’, who were commonly associated with abuses.

“Available evidence is that they are poorly trained and there is little effective management and command of the wardens. The fact that they exercise the same powers as traffic officers, and absence of meaningful systems to hold them accountable, creates a high risk that they will come to be associated with corruption and other types of heavy-handed, bullying and coercive behaviour.

“Despite claims that they only work under the supervision of the SAPS or municipal police, it appears that there is frequently no direct supervision of their activities. Traffic policing in South Africa is strongly associated with corruption. The CPWs will be exposed to the same opportunities for extortion and bribery as traffic police.

“Rather than contributing to greater respect for the law, there is a high risk that they will be yet another agency that undermines such respect.” 

Ironically, the granting of such extensive powers to the amaPanyaza (as they have become known) comes on the same day that yet another controversy about their conduct engulfed the wardens. According to a report in News24, on Saturday evening a group of GCPWs assaulted and injured an off-duty police officer in Tembisa for drinking a beer in public outside his home.

News24 interviewed the officer, who reported: “They assaulted me and handcuffed me.”

“They told me I was under arrest and loaded me into a BMW X3, and we drove away.”

When he “told them he was a police officer and knew the law”, he was told “police officers are disrespectful” and they thought they “know everything”.

The police officer said he had opened a case against the wardens. This has been confirmed by the SAPS. DM

Declaration: Outgoing Maverick Citizen Editor Mark Heywood has joined the Change Starts Now movement. His last day with Daily Maverick will be 14 December 2023.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Communism 1 step further in there utopia of controlling citizens by fear!!!

  • Nonnie Oelofse says:


  • Ben Harper says:

    Ah yes, the anc preparing their private army just in time for the elections

  • Denise Smit says:

    Lesufi and Malema loves North Korea and everything they do

  • Mike Blackburn says:

    So Panyaza’s mini army is now under the Traffic police. They join the JMPD, Gauteng Traffic Police and National Traffic Police, presumably to ensure that the harassment of motorists in Gauteng continues unabated. Oh happy days.

  • Wilhelm Boshoff says:

    This will end in tears.

  • Mario de Abreu says:

    The “”grounds for serious concern”” is the rampant crime in our country, Hell, I don’t care if they walk around in Santa Claus suits. As long as they use their guns to exterminate vermin I am all for them.

    • William Kelly says:

      Ummm. You make the assumption that they are able to make the distinction. Good luck with that.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Unfortunately they’re not Harry Callaghan and this isn’t a Hollywood movie. Badly trained, unsupervised and by all accounts a law unto themselves, it simply screams disaster. I wonder if Lesufi can be held personally liable for any wrongdoing they get up to, since he’s bulldozed this through as a personal project?

  • Iam Fedup says:

    May I remind readers that just over 100 years ago in 1921 Hitler and Mussolini created the Blackshirts to support their rise to power. The SS emerged from that and we all know how that ended.

    • Patrick O'Shea says:

      Well said. Zim war vets 2.0

    • Jennifer D says:

      Don’t worry, South Africans are way too lazy. They will be sitting in their “offices” at home in their new houses that they bought from last months bribing. They won’t come out until they need more money.

    • Colin K says:

      This was my first thought too. The Brownshirts and Blackshirts parallels are very concerning. Hopefully this pilot project doesn’t expand to the rest of us.

      I can’t imagine SAPS is thrilled. Or the residents who will be afflicted by these wardens. Presumably the same people snotklapped by the SANDF during lockdowns.

  • Jacci Babich says:

    Yet another nail in South Africa’s coffin. From top to bottom, adding to the ranks of the poorly educated and insufficiently trained people in power is no recipe for success.

  • William Kelly says:

    Given that I was passed, at speed, by a crime wardens BMW, without lights flashing and apparently absent the usual BMW indicators on the highway, indicates that far from setting an example of how to behave the crime wardens are perhaps misunderstanding that they are there to prevent crime, not create it.
    Lesufi is a muppet. And we must suffer him.

  • Jennifer D says:

    I suspect that in the same way Gauteng traffic officers are disinterested in applying the law and only interested in receiving bribes, our little “crime prevention wardens” will be more of the same. Don’t worry criminals, they are comrades, they will assist you to enforce your criminal ways. They are there to help.

  • Etienne Harris says:

    There’s more than meets the eye on the make. My first question would be, why have yet another independent crime prevention unit? Are the existing structures really that incompetent?

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Well, yes, they are – but this is ANC 101: if everything we do is utterly useless, double down and create more layers of uselessness, and with it, opportunities for corruption and criminality. What I would also like to see, is who won the contracts for the uniforms, the BMWs, the firearms and everything else that has been purchased in the last few months in a rush – were any tenders put out?

    • Bob Dubery says:

      It’s an election ploy. See! I created jobs.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    I wonder how many of the firearms they’re issued with will be stolen or sold to gangs to carry on the pandemic of brutal thuggery on Gauteng’s streets? I also wonder, do they have a rank structure? For instance, if one of these wardens stops you and you ask to speak to their superior officer because you have concerns over their motives, who is that person? And what rights do we have as citizens to refuse compliance with demands from them?

    • John P says:

      Of concern is where the firearms will come from that are provided to them. Are these from stock either national or provincial or will a nice little emergency procurement contract be generated?

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    This decision is a result of internal ANC power struggles.

    And it is a-nother very very bad idea.

  • Caracus Jackarino says:

    So the billions were redirected for VIP protection, maybe from the citizens as are the most threat to them. I smell election ache somewhere..

  • slsol says:

    Driving down 2nd Avenue in Springs yesterday they decided that a Red robot meant nothing in their lives.
    I must admit I was also surprised the the robot was working

  • Richard Robinson says:

    Given the current ineptitude of the chief-clown-in-the-hat and is bunch of Keystone Cops, and their job of setting standards, these kitskonstabels are probably going to be worse than those of the apartheid regime.

  • D Rod says:

    Exactly what this country needs. A bunch of thugs with weapons, close to no control and enacting the “law” anyway they seem fit. I dare you to think of the following scenario – ANC in order to stay in power partners with EFF who finally gets their own legal paramilitary at their disposal. The destruction of shops and looting can be now legally justified. Kristallnacht in Africa?

  • John Ritchie says:

    I’m seeing chubby legs and saddlebags. Can they actually chase a criminal?

  • Those good for nothing corrupt wardens still need to be held accountable for what happened to the gentleman from katlehong.
    This abuse of power is only going to get worse as time goes especially where there is no form of complaints management or processes to follow when indeed someone has gone through the bullying of individuals by these nija turtles

    • Gerrie Pretorius says:

      The police officer from Tembisa who was assaulted will be paid a ‘package’ and the case will be withdrawn. Nothing will come of this atrocity. The lesufi army will be emboldened and know they can get away with murder.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Madness, these people are barely trained youngsters albeit paid accordingly.
    Who do they report too…immediate superiors and aboveb

  • Brian Mac says:

    Has there been any statement from our corrupticats on the training, fitness and certification of the storm troopers?

  • Danial Ronald Meyer says:

    As the respected independent researcher of policing, David Bruce, is quoted in the article for welcoming efforts to strengthen policing as a strategy to reduce crime, his concerns must be addressed.

    Among others, to curb the abuse of power there must be a policy document that sets out their role and post haste more training must be provided to ensure the optimal execution thereof.

    The bottom line is something needs to be done to address rampant criminality.

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      “something needs to be done”

      Ah that universal excuse for pissing tax payers money down the drain. There’s no secret to how to address rampant criminality. It’s called policing and its methods are very well known and there are countless successful worked examples that could be referred to if they are unsure. We don’t lack law enforcement agencies what with SAPS and the Metro cops, we lack policing and adding another cosplay agency to the mix will do absolutely zero to reduce criminality. I find it hard to believe that anyone other than dyed in the wool ANC drone would fall for this transparent scam but here we are.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    These are the ANC equivalent of Zanu PF’s forever youthful military veterans. These ones are just paid salaries and carry guns and swan about ini nice cars we had to pay for. I have absolutely zero doubt that they will be involved in activities intended to undermine the election.

  • Sarel Lotz says:

    Lesufi‘s private army?

  • Hilary Morris says:

    A picture (photo) is worth a thousand words. Does the leading pic inspire us all with relief and confidence? Seriously?

    • Matthew Quinton says:

      Sad hey?

      There is literally not a SINGLE person in that photo with a look of pride, dignity or discipline… just a bunch of slightly confused slightly nervous wide staring eyes… all in different directions… all on their own mission.. no coherence or order or organisation. (Basically like the NEC)

      Look at pictures of the OLD SA army… or recent pics of the Chinese or Russian armed forces. Those people are VERY proud, fit, trained, organised and LASER FOCUSSED… they are genuinely scare when they are lined up in procession.

      Then you look at pictures of our lot of fools… and all you can see if untrained shabbily dressed and overweight muppets and the only commonality is that expression of WTF is going on, where should I be looking and when does the chicken meal arrive.

      Can you hear the circus clown music playing? I can picture them all running around and tripping over each other and falling in cream pies.

      Bom dee bom dee bom dee bom!!!

  • batting 101 Captain says:

    In the main photo I can see the headlights of confusion.
    This will not increase investment in Gauteng.
    I love my GLOCK.

  • Stewart Wood says:

    More lunacy from the ANC! Does nobody remember the “kitskonstabels” of the 1980s, a similar group of unqualifed and uneducated yahoos who brought utter chaos to any situation in which they found themselves – and again to allow them to carry guns will result in the same again!

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