Gauteng ‘being held to ransom by criminals’

About 50% of South Africa’s crime is committed in Gauteng, the new Gauteng police commissioner, Lieutenant General Mzwandile Petros, said on Monday.

“If we therefore win the fight against crime in Gauteng, we reduce crime in a big way nationally,” Petros said at a anti-crime summit in Pretoria.

He said Gauteng produced the worst criminals and they sometimes moved to other provinces to commit crime there.

“We are being held [to] ransom by criminals in this province.”

In his plan to reduce crime in the province, Petros said police visibility would be prioritised. Visibility resulted in crime prevention.

“Streets should not kill or rape our people. Police should patrol the streets that people use; some have to walk to bus and train stations as early as 4am to get to work.”

He said it was worrying that there were no police patrol vehicles on the dangerous sections of highways where robberies, hijackings and murders took place.

Petros planned to increase police accessibility, particularly in townships and informal settlements.

“It is unacceptable that there is only one police station in Tembisa serving about one million people. People have to take two taxis to get to the police station to report crime and that cannot be right.”

Monitoring crime on a weekly or monthly basis would help give a clearer picture of where the police needed to work harder.

“We are given R1,2-billion to fight crime and we must deliver.”

Accountability was important in terms of responding to people’s complaints, said Petros, adding that Hillbrow and Pretoria central police stations were problematic.

‘Are you fit enough to fight them’
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula on Monday warned police to “shape up or ship out”, saying their physiques were preventing them from doing their job properly.

“Some police officers decide to balloon in their physique immediately after leaving the training colleges.

“Those officers are no match compared to the criminals they are after. They must work on their weight,” Mbalula said at the summit.

He said police officers could not be busy “massaging beer bellies” when criminals were on the run.

Criminals were brutally killing police officers and private guards.

“The question then is … are you fit enough to fight them? If not, the police service is not for you. We need officers who can match criminals pound for pound.”

Mbalula said that, although not the norm, it was worrying that the department had recently seen police wanting to become “fat cats” by robbing and stealing, and failing to honour their oath.

“We are firing a warning shot at them. South Africa is not afraid of firing corrupt police.”

To civilians who bribed police officers, Mbalula said: “Your time will come too.” — Sapa

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