Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, believes that the police are not solely responsible for the extremely high crime levels in the country.
According to Cele, the police cannot deal directly with socio-economic circumstances, which give rise to crime.
“It is important to note that the crime levels are influenced by a variety of factors in addition to law enforcement’s efforts alone,” Cele said in response to a question by the DA in parliament.
“There is a well-established relationship between socio-economic conditions and crime rates, and tackling socio-economic conditions in the country is not something that the police can do directly.”
According to Cele, the police are expected to deal with issues related to the prevailing socio-economic problems. This includes the policing of peaceful and violent marches, as well as the policing of undocumented people.
The police must also combat domestic violence and sex crimes, but have “little to no control over these types of crimes, as they are influenced by social factors such as drug and alcohol abuse”, says the minister.
No consequences for high crime
In his written question to Cele about the crime statistics for the fourth quarter of the 2022-23 financial year, Andrew Whitfield, the DA’s spokesperson on police, asked about the consequences faced by the police for the high crime rate.
The statistics for this quarter showed an increase in various violent crimes. This includes an increase in murder (3.4%) and most other contact crimes (4%) compared to the same period last year.
Cele says that no disciplinary steps or investigations have been instituted against the national and provincial management of the South African Police Service (SAPS) regarding the crime statistics.
“The police have developed and implemented several specific performance management frameworks to facilitate strategic priorities, including those related to reducing reported levels of contact crime,” he says.
“The police have also developed performance assessment frameworks that hold senior managers accountable for the performance of their assigned duties.”
According to Cele, the police also have extensive disciplinary processes that will ensure that police officers are punished if they violate the institution’s code of conduct. It also includes any regulatory or legal responsibilities that are not met.