Mpumalanga Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC, Ms. Gabisile Shabalala, visited Standerton, Sakhile, Morgenzon and Ermelo police stations in Gert Sibande Region. The visits were part of the oversight that the Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison (DCSSL) plays over SAPS as provided for in the Constitution. During the visit, the MEC encouraged the police to continue working hard despite high crime levels in some of the areas. Shabalala has told police in Standerton that citizens’ rights should always be prioritised and not that of criminals. She said that any criminals who attack law enforcement officers must be dealt with accordingly.
She added that she is aware of some challenges that police are faced with in terms of human resources and shortage of vehicles. She has emphasised the importance of communities working with police in the fight against crime. Shabalala said that the safety of communities and the police must be prioritised at all times.
Therefore, she insisted that those who attack the police must be harshly dealt with. During the visits the station management at the stations briefed the MEC on various crime patterns in their policing areas. The MEC also noted the conditions at Sakhile Police Station which did not look good. She undertook to continuously plead for the prioritisation of the township for the building of the new police station.
The MEC undertook to ensure that DCSSL adequately supports community police forums (CPF) and victim friendly facilities at police stations. “Victim friendly facilities must be supported such that the victims feel free when assisted in these centres. This will assist in ensuring that victims and crime survivors do not feel uncomfortable at these centres,” she added. She also announced that as part of supporting CPFs, she will call meetings in the three districts where CPFs in various police stations will attend. The meeting was expected to, among other things, discuss ways of enhancing the functionality of CPFs and the type of assistance to be given to these structures in order to make them more effective. This, according to the MEC, will assist with strengthening of existing partnerships between the police and the community in the fight against crime. She has also called on communities to support government’s crime prevention efforts and not antagonise the police who often put their lives on the line in order to protect the people.
Women to lead law enforcement campaign to road deaths
Female law enforcement officers are to undertake massive law enforcement operations throughout the country in celebration of Women’s Month and in an effort to reduce fatalities over the past long weekend. Integrated roadblocks involving officers from different authorities were planned on all routes with a high number of fatal crashes. Statistics show that deaths on South African roads increase substantially over the long weekends with more people dying on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The abuse of alcohol has been identified as one of the key factors contributing to crashes and this will form a major focus of law enforcement efforts over the long weekend. Road crashes exert a heavy burden on the economy, society and families as they involve economically active members of society many of whom are breadwinners and heads of families.
A study conducted by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and the Centre of Scientific and Industrial Research has estimated that the cost of crashes in South Africa last year was R166.2 billion. It is estimated that one death on the road represents an average loss of R4.6 million to the economy in terms of loss of productivity, pain and suffering, medical costs, legal and funeral costs.
An analysis of statistics has identified the roads with the highest number of fatalities. The analysis has confirmed that the top 10 roads and areas with the highest number of deaths nationally are: R71 Mankweng in Limpopo, R573 Umhlanga in Mpumalanga, N4 Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, N2 Libode in Eastern Cape, N1 Naboomspruit in Limpopo, N2 Umkhomazi in KwaZulu Natal, N2 Pongola in KwaZulu Natal, N2 Idutywa in Eastern Cape, R37 Mecklemburg and N3 Harrismith in the Free State. A total of 254 people died on these roads last year and human behaviour accounts for nine out of 10 fatal crashes that occurred on these roads.
These roads have been prioritised for intensified law enforcement and female-led operations will be conducted throughout the month to make these roads safer.
Personification of law enforcement officers by criminals a challenge in Delmas
Some criminals impersonate law enforcement officers in order to rob unsuspecting motorists of their vehicles and belongings along the N12 near Delmas and surrounding areas.
The criminals impersonate the law enforcement officers by placing blue lights on top of the vehicles’ dashboards and by wearing the officers’ uniform. They also use fake logos on the vehicles.
They stop unsuspecting motorists and rob them at gunpoint, especially at night. This emerged during the visit to police stations by Mpumalanga Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC, Ms. Gabisile Shabalala.
The MEC visited police stations in Delmas, Sundra, Phola and Vosman. The visits were part of the oversight role and monitoring that the Department does over the SAPS.
Shabalala was further briefed about the tensions between the farming communities and residents in Victor Khanye Local Municipality.
The police in Delmas also told the MEC about the sporadic protests by communities that are targeting mining houses in the area and demanding jobs. Police also reported that some farmers believe that crime was not sufficiently addressed and as a result some farmers were reportedly taking the law into their own hands.
Other concerns at the stations include the non-availability of volunteers at most victim friendly facilities and the shortage of staff and vehicles at the stations. The proliferation of drugs, particularly around Vosman, also came under the spotlight with the police saying it is contributing to house robberies and other violent crimes.
MEC Shabalala has called on the staff at these stations to continue working hard despite some of the challenges at their stations in terms of the resources.
“You must not be despondent but rather continue to work for communities. We will support because you continuously place your lives on the line in order to protect this country and its citizens,” the MEC said.
Shabalala also highlighted the need for the strengthening of highway patrols, saying that it would curtail robberies experienced in the affected areas.
According to Shabalala, the increased co-operation between the farming and local communities was also imperative for the achievement of peaceful coexistence. She has also condemned vigilantism and urged farmers and communities to work together in order to curb crime. She also indicated that government will continue to mobilise all stakeholders in fighting crime, including the farming communities.
Members of the community warned not to take law into their own hands
The Provincial Commissioner of police in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma, hereby warns members of the community against taking the law into their own hands. The warning comes after a man was burned to death in an apparent act of vigilantism on Saturday, 10 August, at Alexandria Trust, Marite, near Hazyview. The incident was suspected to be a retaliation by the community after the murder of a 13-year-old boy, whose body parts were found hidden in a fridge at a man’s house. It was reported that on Friday, 9 August, the boy went missing and the community immediately conducted a search and later discovered his body, with some missing body parts, in an open field near a dam within the area (Alexandria Trust). It was then that two boys allegedly informed the community that they spotted the boy walking with the man, who is well-known in the area. They (the community) apparently hunted the man down, brutally assaulted him and set him alight. He died on the scene. Police were alerted about the incident and upon arrival at the scene, they were attacked by the angry mob as they tried to quell the situation. General Zuma warns community members to stop taking the law into their own hands, urging people to report criminal acts to the police and let the law take its course. “Vigilantism will not be tolerated nor accepted as a way of dealing with crime, anyone found to have participated in such acts, will be arrested and face the full might of the law”, said General Zuma.
Accused found guilty and sentenced for fraud
Godfrey Sifiso Tony Lukhele (33) was found guilty on 131 counts of Fraud by the Nelspruit Regional Court on the 29 July for defrauding the South African Revenue Services (SARS) of over R 3 million in fraudulent Value Added Tax (VAT) returns. For three years starting in March 2013, Lukhele submitted false VAT claims, he was initially arrested following a Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation. He appeared in court and was subsequently granted a R70 000 bail and never returned to court as scheduled. A warrant for his arrest was authorised and resulting in his arrest on 9 July. Lukhele was further linked to a case of fraud where he fraudulently sold a house on behalf of the owner and took the amount of R52 863.24 for himself. On Monday,5 August, Lukhele was sentenced to five years imprisonment of which half is suspended on condition that he pays back the amount of R1 Million to SARS.
The accused was also sentenced for the fraud case where he unlawfully sold a house of a complainant and pocketed the money. He received a five-year sentence, wholly suspended for five years on condition that he pays back the money to the complainant.