Johannesburg Metro Police Chief David Tembe says he has succeeded in his anti-crime operation, 'Buya Mthetho' (Bring Back The Law), to stop the rot of in Johannesburg metro. Pictures: Thembelihle Mkhonza/ANA

JOHANNESBURG - "We want to bring back the law in the city of Johannesburg," David Tembe the chief of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) said on Monday in an exclusive interview with the African News Agency (ANA).

It has been a year since Tembe was appointed JMPD chief amid disapproval from some quarters, including the ANC, which said at the time that he was not the most "suitable candidate".

Even though a unanimous recommendation to appoint him was made by a recruitment panel, the ANC disapproved. 

The party complained that Tembe was fifth on the list. 

However, the other four were not registered members of the Municipal Police Service, which was a prerequisite for the urgent appointment. Registering them would have taken months, the City said.

A year on, Tembe would not be drawn to comment on the matter and instead pointed to his successes.

“After I was appointed as a JMPD Chief we launched an operation called Buya Mthetho 'Bring Back The Law',"  said the buoyant chief metro cop on Monday.

He explained that anti-crime operation was part of the city’s commitment to ensure that "we stop the rot in our city and make it a prosperous and inclusive place for our people to live work and play".

Tembe said since the operation was launched "a lot has changed in the city, people were scared of walking around the city but now I cannot say the same".

Buya Mthetho, which he said has proven to be about raising revenue collection as much as it's about enforcing bylaws and preventing crime, would continue for "a long time".

Raids have been carried out on premises suspected of by passing water and electricity meters in the city's central business district and other suburbs were such practices are rampant. The chief said more than 90 "hijacked" buildings in which tenants lived in squalor had been recovered and were being refurbished.

"During the operation Buya Mthetho we ensure that people are legally connected when its comes to water and electricity, every one must pay," said Tembe.

The chief said the operation had been so successful it had since been adopted by the South African Police Service in Gauteng.

He said municipal police officers were working "very hard" to reduce crime and grime in the city and he was trying to keep them motivated 

"I am going to reward hard workers officers by promoting them and giving them awards to show them that we are appreciating their good job," Tembe said.

He urged law abiding community members report to the JMPD any crimes that they maybe aware of.

Tembe's public safety career began in 1981 as a paramedic with the Johannesburg Emergency Services (EMS). He became a superintendent in 1989, and in 1999 was appointed acting director in charge of the EMS Academy.

In 2001, Tembe was appointed director of operations where he was responsible of leading the 26 city fire stations.

In the following year, Tembe was appointed acting chief of the EMS, where under his stewardship, the URBAN Search and Rescue was established and represented South Africa during disasters in Algeria and Iran.

Tembe's appointment last year as the JMPD head honcho was a second bite of the cherry. He was first appointed director of operations for the JMPD in 2003 after serving for close to 20 years with the EMS.

During his time with JMPD, Tembe was given an award by the National Department of Transport for innovation and excellence in Traffic Law Enforcement.

But in 2011, Tembe resigned from the force.

After his resignation from the JMPD, Tembe was appointed National Chief of Traffic (RTMC). In 2013 he quit the position to pursue a career as a consultant in Law Enforcement.

Tembe holds a National Diploma in Personnel Management, Metro policing, FBI Law Enforcement Executive Leadership (Virginia, USA). He has also attended seminars on Law Enforcement Leadership in the USA since 2009.

Armed with all these credentials Tembe exudes the confidence of a man ready to take on the fight to law breakers in the city.

Pressed to say what difficulties he was encountering, Tembe said: "The challenges of course is what the community was to see change ... for example you look at the traffic ... taxis and vehicles driving in wrong lanes towards on coming traffic ... enforcing by laws ... all those small things ... people urinating in the streets ... throwing trash ... once you can deal with these you can deal with bigger things".

On crime prevention, the chief said metro cops need to be visible "not just sitting in cars". He said they need the public to see them "doing something". 

They must win the hearts and minds of the community, Tembe implored. "Our legitimacy is as the metro police is based on the trust that the community has in us."

Tembe also revealed that on Tuesday he will be travelling to Kigali in Rwanda.

"We are just going to learn about the turnaround (of Kigali) to be one of the cleanest city's in Africa," the metro police chief said.

African News Agency (ANA)