Home South African Task teams to tackle economic sabotage, says Cele

Task teams to tackle economic sabotage, says Cele

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Police Minister Bheki Cele has said that task teams will be established in identified hot spots to tackle economic sabotage, extortion at construction sites and the vandalism of infrastructure.

Police Minister Bheki Cele. File Picture

POLICE Minister Bheki Cele has said that task teams will be established in identified hot spots to tackle economic sabotage, extortion at construction sites and the vandalism of infrastructure.

Cele, who was delivering his budget vote, raised another key issue – the need for the police to work closely with community policing forums (CPF) and private security companies.

Speaking on economic sabotage and related crimes, Cele said: “These crimes will not be allowed to go unabated, this is why task teams will be established in 18 identified hot spots, linked to municipalities with highest reported cases of such crimes. These multi-disciplinary task teams will focus on extortion at construction sites and businesses and illegal mining. The highly-skilled teams will tackle theft of non-ferrous metals and copper cables and put in measures to combat and stop illegal mining.”

Cele added that task teams will also tackle essential infrastructure crimes such as the tampering, damaging or destruction of infrastructure related to energy, transport, water, sanitation and communication services.

“Critical infrastructure crimes, which involves the attack, damage or theft of fuel pipelines and related crimes, will also be on their radar. Legislation to this effect is also under way. The draft regulations have been published in the Government Gazette for public comments.”

He said the SAPS budget for this financial year was R100.6 billion; the Independent Police Investigative Directorate has a budget of R357 million and the Civilian Secretariat for police service gets a budget of R150.2m.

Gareth Newham, head of the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, welcomed the news of the establishment of the task teams as he said specialised units were necessary to effectively tackle those involved in complex or organised crime.

“It will require intelligence, analysts and skilled investigators to identify the criminal networks involved in these types of crimes, and make sure that they are charged and serve prison sentences. Once it becomes too risky for these groups and networks to operate, we should see a reduction in these types of crimes, which will be good for the economy.”

Newham said better engagement between community policing forums and the police was possible if the local police were motivated, honest and willing to build constructive relationships with people living in their precincts.

“However, simply having a CPF that few people know about, or that don’t broadly represent the people living in the community, will not make much difference.”

Speaking on better co-operation with private security, Newham said that this could be beneficial if the partnership was based on trust and shared values.

“There are good examples of where this is happening in various parts of the country. For example, the Eyes and Ears (2Es) Initiative, which is a partnership between the SAPS, Business Against Crime and the private security industry, is a good model for improving co-operation and information sharing that has yielded positive results.”

Mary de Haas, from the KwaZulu-Natal Violence Monitor, said the police working with private security companies could lead to issues if not properly controlled. She added: “Private security should only work under the command and control of the police, who must be responsible for the conduct of all of them if working together. Generally speaking, the private security industry is badly regulated and many companies are not even registered.”

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