PRETORIA, September 4 – Police Minister Fikile Mbalula on Sunday vowed to intervene to finish the “ongoing picnic” within the headquarters of the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) crime intelligence unit.
“General Mapholoba [clan name for recently appointed SAPS crime intelligence head Maj-Gen King Bhoyi Ngcobo] of our beloved crime intelligence, I’m coming there. At Waterkloof there is a picnic going on there, and I’m going to finish it. I want parliamentarians who are here to support me, I’m going to finish that picnic because we have a duty to perform. Criminals are busy and you spend your days chasing stupid issues,” Mbalula said at the annual SAPS commemoration for slain police officers at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The crime intelligence headquarters are situated in Erasmuskloof, near Waterkloof in Pretoria.
“We want those things we have invested in you, to find those criminals. We need crime intelligence to be on board. You have all our support. The acting President [Cyril Ramaphosa who was also at the event] and the President [Jacob Zuma] in absentia, have commanded us to fight crime. We must do exactly that and nobody is going to stop us from that. Those who are laying here, whom we have come to bid farewell, have done so to save our people,” said Mbalula.
Last month, acting national police commissioner Lt-Gen Lesetja Mothiba fired divisional commissioner responsible for crime intelligence Maj-Gen Pat Mokushane amid a row over the latter’s security clearance and allegations of a dodgy past and nepotism.
Mokushane had been in the position in an acting capacity for around two months. His axing followed media reports that he had a criminal record, allegedly ran his private companies from his office, and had an affair with a subordinate officer’s wife.
On Sunday, Mbalula charged the crime intelligence unit to use state machinery at their disposal to fight crime, not to engage in “dirty politics”.
As he vowed to intensify the fight against crime across South Africa, particularly in Gauteng, Mbalula said he would lead the anti-crime crusade wearing the SAPS uniform.
“Lt-Gen Mothiba doesn’t want me to become a reservist. He says the law doesn’t allow the minister to wear a uniform. Deputy President [Ramaphosa], I want to wear a uniform of the police. And I’m going to wear it, even if the Constitution does not allow. I’m going to break the law… because I’m your minister and I’m passionate about what I’m doing,” Mbalula said.
“I know the dangers you [police] face because I have seen them. I’m not an office man. I know what you do… I know that when I give you those cases of criminals you act with responsibility and duty. I know your efforts. I know your pain. I know the dangers you face,” he said.
“I’m fighting with you, I’m with you in the streets. And we are going to win this war. The criminals will never dance forever. Today we mourn, but we [also] celebrate. Wherever they are they must know we are coming and we will find them. We will clean them out in the streets and we will smoke them out in their holes. We will fight crime with the ferocity of a cornered bull and the agility of a cat with an uncompromising spirit.”
In his speech, Ramaphosa praised Mbalula’s passion for his anti-crime portfolio and leading police officers on the ground.
“As he demonstrated, he will be with you every inch of the way. He will want to work with you as you smoke the criminals out, as you root them out. He was very poetic when he said all this, in the usual Fikile Mbalula way,” Ramaphosa said.
Emotional scenes were witnessed at the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) memorial site at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Sunday as families of slain officers, particularly wives and children, lined up to lay wreaths for the 40 police officers killed in the line of duty between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017.
Police chaplains and emergency services personnel helped the bereaved families, using wheelchairs to carry some of the wailing family members away.
In his address at the sombre event, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the occasion should remind serving SAPS members to “take back the streets”.
“In their memory, in their honour, take your place, stake your claim, and win the fight against crime. Take back our streets and communities and rid them of crime. Bring criminals to justice and ensure that no person is beyond the long arm of the law.
“Carry your responsibility with sincerity and integrity. Become a police service of professionalism, honestly, accountability, and effective working relations with communities,” Ramaphosa said.
To the families, he said they should take solace in the fact that their loved ones had died as heroes.
“Your loss is greater than ours. May you find solace in knowing that your loved ones died heroes in a worthy and noble cause. May their names, their deeds, and their sacrifices never be forgotten.” Ramaphosa said being a member of the SAPS “is not merely a job”, but rather a calling.