Durban — The Political Task Team investigating murders in KZN continues to arrest hit men and those who order assassinations on their political rivals.
This was revealed by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday at the release of the crime stats for the third quarter of 2022.
Cele said police were also cleaning house and ridding the service of officers who choose to partner with rogue criminal elements.
He said a total of 46 police officers have been dismissed for various transgressions.
Out of the 7 555 people murdered in the three months of reporting, 3 144 people were killed with a firearm, and 2 498 people were killed with other weapons such as knives, sharp or blunt instruments, bricks and in many cases bare hands.
Overall, the total number of contact crimes increased by 19 067 (11.6%) from Q3 2021 to Q3 2022, he said.
KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said the crime stats were very alarming but not unexpected.
De Haas said the Crime Intelligence was failing, utterly, to fulfil its constitutional mandate to prevent crime.
She said it lacked incorruptible officers at all stations with good informer networks, to identify criminal activities and stop them through proactive policing and credible investigations of crimes.
“The problem starts with the complete breakdown of proper crime intelligence. As with other policing components, there are still members who strive to do their work properly but the problem is with the incompetent officers. But why is anyone surprised about the crime stats?
“They should be outraged that the president is keeping a minister like Bheki Cele who irregularly funds the police himself, has very adverse findings against him by the inquiry into him and the Public Protector and has cases against him, including the 2010 World Cup tender. The needless loss of lives is the real state of disaster and the president himself is responsible,” said De Haas.
She said the surge in drive-by shootings, and mass shootings which actually constitute massacres, suggests that there were a lot of guns in circulation, not just handguns but also a lot of semi-automatic guns.
“The heart of the policing situation particularly involves crime intelligence. They are not picking this up and it’s their job to pick up the hit men before they can kill people. The taxi industry supplies most of the hit men but there's no political will to do anything about it,” De Haas said.
De Haas added that she was uncertain if people realised that the “out-of-control crime rate” was because policing was in a state of crisis.
She said one urgent intervention could be the appointment of an ombudsman body headed by a judge, since the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) still has no independence from the ministry.
“Something needs to be done about it urgently, including the proliferation of guns because the police are doing it.
“I think the president should immediately appoint a judge with one or two advocates to help him and someone from the auditor-general's office to look into all these complaints, especially about guns and gun shops that are supplying these guns,” said De Haas.
Blessed Gwala, chief whip in KZN of the Inkatha Freedom Party, said the stats were a reflection that communities and police were not working together.
Police alone cannot combat crime in communities that were not supportive towards them nor showing that they also wanted to help in curbing crime, he said.
“Communities know people who could be or are involved in dodgy things. But they would not offer assistance to the police even when asked to. Then how are police supposed to fight crime with no information? People cannot be crying ‘crime’ while not willing to fight against it,” said Gwala.
He said illegal firearms continue to be a factor largely contributing to crime.
“The justice system needs to play its role to curb crime. Police can work hard and lock people up but because in courts those people have lawyers they end up walking free even when they are guilty. This demolishes the job done by the police and demoralises officers,” Gwala said.
Gwala further stated that load shedding and unemployment were also contributing to the rate of murders, adding that crime goes higher when it is dark.
Speaking to our sister publication, DA MPL Sharon Hoosen, the community safety spokesperson in KZN, said crime statistics reaffirmed that the province was becoming a war zone, adding that the police's performance was not pleasing.
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