KwaZulu-Natal’s new police commissioner, Lieutenant- General Khombinkosi Jula, has hit the ground running, with a number of successful operations focusing on crime hot spots in the province. SE-ANNE RALL

Durban - Newly appointed provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula, has vowed to step up crime fighting in hot spots, deal with the invasion of construction sites and rid the streets of illegal firearms and drugs. 

Jula discussed his crime-fighting strategy for KwaZulu-Natal in a recent interview with The Mercury.

Since he took office in August, police have arrested more than 12000 people during province-wide operations.

Among those nabbed were two murder suspects, a hijacking suspect and four men accused of a heist at Mayuri’s Jewellers at the Pavilion last week.

The gang wore eThekwini Municipality Durban Solid Waste overalls.

Jula said the police had adopted a zero tolerance approach against the invasion and disruption of building sites in Durban and KZN by the construction business forum, Delangokubona.

He said he had met KZN premier Sihle Zikalala to speak about criminal elements wreaking havoc in the construction sector.

The former Western Cape police boss was deployed to the province to replace former commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi at the beginning of August - as part of a reshuffle made by national police commissioner General Khehla John Sitole.

His deployment was questioned by some opposition parties, following the national government’s decision to deploy the army in the Western Cape due to ongoing gang violence in the province. “I’ve learnt a lot of lessons in the Western Cape and I’m continuing from where I left off. KZN has its own dynamics, especially in the areas of faction fighting, gangsterism, taxi violence and political killings.

“For that reason, I’m going to ensure that we raise the bar. Communities are complaining that people are not doing anything and we’ll be ensuring that we tackle crime and arrest as many people as possible,” he said.

Jula said police would work closely with communities and policing forums.

He said police would target criminals operating in high crime areas, including Durban Central, Port Shepstone, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay and Newcastle.

“We’ll also be focusing our operations on police stations that report the most murders, like KwaNongoma, KwaMashu E section, uMlazi, Inanda, and some rural stations,” he said.

Jula said it was important for residents to report “any and all” suspicious activities to police, saying officers could not eliminate crime without the help of community members. He said it was important for families to work together to root out criminal elements, as many of the ills in society were as a result of family conflicts.

Jula said he was aware of tensions within the police service regarding allegations that officers in specialised units had been promoted, while those at station level were overlooked. The alleged “unfair promotions” have led to protests within the SAPS recently.

“This is a national matter and is being dealt with at a national level. There’s a task team that has met with our human resources unit and they are looking at the promotions of officers across the board, with specific criteria to ensure uniformity,” he said.

Jula also said they were looking at tackling corruption within the police force.

This comes after watchdog group Corruption Watch revealed that corruption in the police force had overtaken other sectors of government, including health care and local government.

“We have taken a zero tolerance stance to corruption and each time a member is found guilty, we have taken serious action against them. We also have anti-corruption units that work both provincially and nationally. There are also mechanisms in place to deter members from engaging in corrupt activities.”

According to the latest statistics released by police, 12309 suspects had been arrested in month-long operations.

Of those, 2195 suspects were arrested for drug-related crimes, 1271 for drunk driving and 713 for illegally dealing in liquor.

The Mercury