South African Police Service (SAPS) officers enforce a perimeter around a crime scene as pathalogical investigators inspect the crime scene where 14 people where shot dead in a tavern as a forensic team investigates in Soweto on July 10, 2022. - Fourteen people were killed during a shootout in a bar in Soweto police said on July 10, 2022. Police lieutenant Elias Mawela said that they were called in the early hours in the morning, around 12:30am after the shooting overnight Saturday and Sunday. When police arrived at the scene, 12 people were confirmed dead. 11 others were taken to hospital with wounds but two later died, raising the death toll to 14. (Photo by EMMANUEL CROSET / AFP)

By Staff Reporters

The South African Police Services (SAPS) has suffered yet another knock to its tumbling reputation.
This as violent crime is on the rise and allegations of a cover-up by political elites have been levelled against them.
There has been a spike in violent incidents of crime; the recent one being the mass killings and shootings at taverns in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
These incidents were followed by the horrifying gang-rape of eight women on an abandoned mine dump in Krugersdorp, in Gauteng’s West Rand, allegedly by illegal migrants known as zama zamas who are involved in illegal mining.
The incident underscored claims of poor policing and the increase of illegal imigrants in the country.
Meanwhile, the police watchdog body, the Independent Police Investigations Directorate (Ipid), announced that it will be investigating allegations of police cover-ups in the investigations of the theft of millions in foreign currency at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala Farm two years ago.
Experts and academics say police work is compromised by political interference, poor governance, lack of community participation, poor resources and a lack of technical skills in the SAPS.
Interpol’s ambassador for the Turn Back Crime Campaign, Andy Mashaile, said the crime upsurge and inquiries by Ipid are to be expected, because policing has been structurally and systematically compromised.
“There are things that we read about in the media. These include police officials working without a case number and deploying serious resources such as helicopters in cross-border raids.
“It is obvious that there are people who have captured the SAPS. The involvement of people outside of the law enforcement agencies, which translates into interference in policing actions, inhibits the institutions of law enforcement,” said Mashaile.
He maintains that when you have police management or a national police commissioner taking instructions from the president, you have a serious problem.
“In terms of the South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995, provincial commissioners should establish a provincial community police board.

“The provincial commissioner also has the responsibility to instruct police stations to establish community policing forums,” said Mashaile.
“During my tenure in the Gauteng Provincial Community Police Board, I pushed for the establishment of Section 21 companies at station level. Powers that be were opposed to CPFs establishing Section 21 companies.
“So, you would have had a situation where, with regards to strategic management, there was smart-thinking and the operationalisation of the Act. Regulations and other legal instruments of policing are not in place because those who give direction and focus to these policing enabling structures and resources never studied or spend time trying to understand the enabling environment of policing.”
Mashaile said more heinous crimes like the Krugersdorp gang rape incident were expected to happen because police in the West Rand have turned a blind eye.
“You have mines that have been abandoned by Sibanye Mine that have been targeted by zama zamas. Frequently at night, they would fire random shots using AK-47s and R1 riffles to intimidate ordinary people and the police do nothing,” he said.

Mashaile criticises the police’s operational capability
“In terms of understating these people, gathering intelligence, knowing the modus operandi and analysing their operations is important. Why is it difficult for them to prevent these crimes? Remember, this thing started in the East Rand. What lessons has the SAPS learned from the ERPM mines in the East Rand?”
Another policing expert, Ziyanda Stuurman, author of Can We Be Safe? The Future of Policing in South Africa, agrees with Mashaile. Speaking at the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) seminar on mass shootings, she said poor governance has compromised police work.
“Mass killings are interconnected and should not be seen as isolated. The collapse of government due to corruption has undermined good policing and escalated violent crime,” said Stuurman.
“Many of the issues that manifest as random violence need a solution from the government.
“Good governance lies at the centre of these issues.
“It has been long in the making with gangs in KZN, the Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, mostly with gangs but also political murders and assassinations of political opponents.
“There has also been a problem of unequal distribution of resources, as well as a lack of media attention on some of these issues.”
Like Mashaile, Stuurman says police intelligence is poor. Hence the police are “reactive”.
Prof Irvin Kinnes from the Centre for Criminology at the University of Cape Town, speaking at the same event, said the current wave of crime, especially the mass killings in Gauteng, KZN, the Eastern Cape appear to be committed by groups that have the semblance of the pre-democracy mass killings like those who killed people in the trains in Gauteng.
“These men are said to travel around in white Toyota Quantums. These killers make sure people are dead. It is clear that these people have been trained and have killed before,” said Kinnes.
Kinnes said another similarity with the early 90s violence was the ease with which they have access to and moved firearms.
He said they seem to be politically motivated to achieve a particular political objective.
“These attacks are on the soft underbelly of society like in the taverns. The perpetrators could harbour political motives to undermine the security of the country and create fear and pandemonium,” he said.
Another expert, Dr Guy Lamb of the Stellenbosch University and National Planning Commission, also told the ISS seminar that police intelligence has been found wanting.
“Police need to work on rebuilding intelligence and working better with local communities. People are aware of these activities but can’t report them to the police because they are scared of putting their lives in danger,” said Dr Lamb.
He also bemoaned poor tactical aptitude.
“Police need to focus on crime intelligence, leadership, the ability to get tactical response teams, establishing intelligence structures to prevent these crimes rather than having a militarised response that comes after the fact.
“Police are faced with corruption and weaknesses. These create serious problems.”
Legal expert, Advocate Sephiri Moshodi of the Justice Equality Foundation said the country needs to deal with its decaying morality.
He said South African religious leaders should play a more active role in society. He also called for tighter regulations to keep taverns in check.
He concurred with Prof Kinnes and Mashaile on the need for organised community involvement.
He said there was a need to vet all security companies that guard government buildings and this must be extended to those involved in community policing forums.
“Intransigent and apartheid police officers cannot work with community members because of the hardened mindset and the arrogance of apartheid police who feel uncomfortable working with ordinary South Africans in dealing with crime,” he said.

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