Murder and armed robbery – Kromdraai, Krugersdorp

Murder and armed robbery – Kromdraai, Krugersdorp
Jill Masterton

Whilst acknowledging that poverty is a key driver of crime in South Africa, and that inequality and unemployment are rife, and that many of our citizens are turning to crime as a means of making a living, we are nonetheless disgusted and appalled by the armed robbery and senseless murder that took place in Kromdraai in Krugersdorp on the evening of 4 December 2014.

Two elderly residents were held up at gunpoint, tied up and assaulted for an extended period of time where after the assailants fled with electronic equipment of little value. They left behind a critically injured woman who later succumbed to the torturous injuries she received.

The systemic rot in the criminal justice system and the poor governance at multiple levels of government in South Africa are to be blamed for this and thousands of other serious crimes.

At national level the incapacity of SAPS management to ‘manage’, has led to vehicle fleet contracts being cancelled. The Fire Arm Control Register is in total disarray and multiple key SAPS posts, like those in Crime Intelligence, are vacant. No crime statistics are available to the community on a regular, continuous basis because they have to be ‘sanctioned’ and ‘sanitised’ by political office holders, leaving the citizenry as sitting ducks because they do not know what is happening around them daily.

The ridiculous attempts to demilitarise the SAPS seem to overshadow the need for actual policing. When will the National Commissioner realise that the community at large do not care whether police have civilian or military ranks, but would rather have effective policing that will make them safer? Stop wasting time and money, and do your job, Commissioner!

The incapacity of the national management team has, in turn, led to a vacuum at provincial level in the crime fighting capacity of the SAPS. Key SAPS posts are vacant and the threshold to occupy these critical posts is being lowered so that suitably unqualified persons can be appointed. Should we not insist on excellence, both in terms of qualifications and integrity? This should be non-negotiable, always.

Will the SAPS follow on the heels of the SABC, SAA and other state and parastatal agencies where unqualified managers and executives are tolerated?

The national and provincial incapacity of the SAPS has led to police stations across the country being under resourced, both in terms of manpower and physical resources.

Forensic lab reports needed to get criminals off the streets take months to compile and be returned to police stations. All this whilst drug dealers, for example, continue trading in death on our streets.

Visible policing has reached critically low levels at some police stations and the community are paying the price for this absence from the streets with their lives. Police vehicles are standing in supplier garages for months at a time waiting for repairs. The previous Gauteng police commissioner promised that he would fix this problem but he did not.

Imagine trying to fight crime, but without cars? Most police stations have only one fingerprint reader. How can police stations responsible for the safety of hundreds of thousands of citizens function without even the basic tools?

Rural Safety Strategies are in disarray, leaving thousands of citizens vulnerable because of a shortage of manpower and equipment. The murder of Mrs Jill Masterton (65), in Kromdraai on 4 December 2014 is testimony to this.

Sadly, the high levels of corruption in our nation both inside and outside of the public service have led to a total mistrust in the capacity of the SAPS. As representatives of the community in ensuring that policing is effective, the CPF generally promotes a positive public perception of the SAPS, but police management, especially at national level, make this task very difficult at the moment.

We work at grassroots level, outside of the political sphere, and we can attest to the frustration of citizens with the government (the SAPS and the NPA specifically). We seldom hear praise for the police, although we know it is often well deserved.

What we see instead are political plots to centralise power, and the abuse of law enforcement agencies in furthering those plots. “Please take your hands of the SAPS” is our earnest plea to those who engage in this behaviour.

Add to this systemic rot in the SAPS the problems in the NPA and Correctional Services, and the list of failures grows and grows. We call upon the National Police Commissioner and her management team to fix the rot or leave office and allow suitably qualified individuals to do it. How many more lives must be sacrificed because of the incapacity of the SAPS and the criminal justice system to protect us?

Issued by the EXCO of the Community Policing Forum, Krugersdorp, on 2014/12/05 at 18h00.

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