/ 22 May 2024

ANC Youth League leader Collen Malatji accuses SAPS of incompetence and criminal ties

ANC Youth League president Collen Malatji. Photo: @Collen_Malatji3/X

ANC Youth League president Collen Malatji has slammed the South African Police Service, accusing some officers of incompetence and of working in cahoots with criminals.

Addressing residents of Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, after the youth league marched to the local police station to protest against crime on Wednesday, Malatji said police were criminals in uniform.

Speaking in the presence of Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner Fannie Masemola, he said officers in the area could not deal effectively with crime because they were friends with the criminals.

The youth league handed over a memorandum of demands during the march, which came in the wake of the recent killing of five-year-old Ditebogo Junior Phalane by hijackers outside his home.

Speaking outside the police station, Malatji said all the Soshanguve police officers knew was to eat, work with criminals and demand salaries.

“We have called Minister Bheki Cele to see these criminals in uniform. We want to ask these criminals in uniform to take off the uniform because the youth are ready to work and protect their community,” he said. “We are not going to allow criminals to wear our uniform to protect the residents. The youth must take charge of their own communities.” 

Opposition parties have in the past urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to axe Cele, accusing him of being incompetent. 

On Saturday, the Democratic Alliance accused Cele of shelving the release of crime statistics for the fourth quarter in a “blatant attempt to avoid embarrassment before the election on the 29th of May and an unacceptable politicisation of statistics which are in the public interest”.

In 2023, Pretoria ranked first in the crime index among African cities, scoring about 82 index points. The five most dangerous areas on the continent were all South African cities.

On Wednesday Malatji said police had very little training, making them unfit for the job.

“Our mothers are having a hard time in their houses, drugs are all over the streets, children are being murdered, women are being raped and mugging is at an all-time high and they are just relaxing here at the police station,” he said. 

“We can’t have a high level of unemployment of young people in South Africa, when you have lazy police who just want to eat fat cakes, sleep at the office and when you open the case, they act like the police station belongs to their families. We heard that when you open cases here, they are questioned like you are the criminal.”

ANC national executive committee member Mdu Manana, who participated in the march, said the youth league was not protesting against the governing party.

“This is not a march against the ANC, it’s a march against crime and we can only come to the police to ask them to protect us from criminals who are killing us everyday,” Manana said.

Masemola said police have been making headway in arresting criminals linked to the violent crimes in the area, and had arrested 20 people linked to 29 crimes since 9 May.

He promised residents that the police were going to clean up Soshanguve.

Cele said the police service was trying to strengthen its selection process to ensure that the right people were on the ground, and was looking for candidates who wanted to serve the people rather than those merely looking for employment.

“If you want a job, go to Coca Cola or Toyota. The police are a service, you must like it here when you want to come and serve. This is not a place for desperate people,” he said.