Pretoria - Weeks after thugs razed a police station and a man was charged with raping seven women, Police Minister Bheki Cele has implored the SAPS to respond quicker to crimes and solve cases faster.
He was speaking to journalists at the launch of the countrywide festive season inspection that kicked off in Malamulele and Thohoyandou in Limpopo yesterday.
It followed the launch of the national Safer Festive Season Campaign in October. The inspection will end in KwaZulu-Natal on December 22.
Cele, with Deputy Minister Castle Mathale and the management team of the SAPS at national and provincial level, assessed the effectiveness of resources the area most needed.
The visit comes less than a month after an embarrassing incident in which the police at Malamulele in Limpopo were bundled into the back of their own car and robbed of guns by criminals. Cele said such developments were unacceptable and not good for the image of the SAPS.
“We can’t have a situation where people can just go into a police station, subdue the police and steal a lot of firearms and ammunition… and we don’t respond quickly to that situation,” said Cele.
“We are far from where we are supposed to be at the moment. It’s been four weeks since the robbery at Malamulele police station and those people are still at large. They should have been brought to book by now.”
The incident last month saw armed men storm the Malamulele police station, hold officers at gunpoint in the community centre of the precinct and bundle police on duty into the back of a police van, while one was ordered to unlock the safe.
From the safe they took R5 rifles, 9mm pistols, shotguns and an undisclosed amount of ammunition.
The brazen suspects proceeded to rob a nearby local food outlet and a petrol station of cash.
Cele said he and provincial SAPS commissioner Thembi Hadebe had requested that they be furnished with daily reports on the status of the investigation.
He also warned criminals who targeted women and children during the festive season, saying: “I’m emphasising that we put extra safety on women and children. Police have to be hard and cruel to all those who abuse and rape women and children.
“We must quickly put those people behind bars. We are calling on families to act because (much of) the violence against women and children happens in the houses of the people known to the victims. Police must make sure that when these crimes happen, people get arrested and the keys are thrown away,” said Cele.
“When criminals see you (the cops), they must run. When they think of raping a woman, they must think you are there. When they knock on somebody’s house to rob them, they must remember you are there and if you find them, make their lives hell. Do not treat criminals well.”