Opening remarks by the Premier of Mpumalanga Province, Honourable R.M. Mtshweni-Tsipane, on the occasion of the Provincial Crime Summit

29 June 2023

Co-Programme Directors, Honourable MEC Shongwe and Honourable Manzini;
Honourable Members of the Executive Council;
The Executive Mayor of Ehlanzeni District Municipality, Cllr Jesta Sidell;
Our host, the Executive Mayor of the City of Mbombela Local Municipality, Cllr Sibongile Makushe;
Executive Mayors of our Municipalities present;
The Chairperson of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional and Khoi-San leaders, Kgoshi Lameck Mokoena;
Senior Managers of government led by the Director-General, Mr Makhukhu Mampuru;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Good Morning,

  1. Co-Programme directors, it is with a sense of gratitude that I join you all today as we take a united stand against the scourge that is crime in our beautiful Province.

  2. Crime has become a blight in our Province.
    • It has left us bleeding and grieving for our loved ones;
    • It has left a trail of orphans, widows and widowers;
    • It has robbed families of parents, and communities of their leaders.

  3. The SAPS crime report for the 2022/2023 financial year has reflected a worrying increase in contact related crimes such as murder, assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and residential robberies.

  4. Not a day passes without us hearing harrowing stories about violent crime in our communities.

  5. Criminals have now targeted health care facilities and healthcare workers. Just last week, a hospital in Carolina, became a target of criminals, while an ambulance was hijacked and emergency healthcare workers, assaulted at the Nsikazi clinic, here in Mbombela.

  6. We are still reeling in shock, the brutal death of Hhosi Mnisi of the Mnisi Tribal Authority in Bushbuckridge, and later his wife, Charlene. [May their souls rest in peace]. We also recall the tragedy that unfolded near the Numbi gate of the Kruger National Park last year when a German tourist lost his life at the hands of hijackers.

  7. I mention these few incidents to give practical evidence of how crime has become an exceptional affront to the spirit and purport of our democratic dispensation and ubuntu inherent in all of us.

  8. There are several lessons we, as government, have learnt in dealing with the scourge of crime in Mpumalanga. We have learnt that to a large degree, crime in our province has a uniquely random and violent character.

  9. A greater proportion of crimes such as rapes, usually take place among acquaintances, particularly in poor communities where living conditions are a challenge to a decent family and social life.

  10. The close-knit family sentiment and somehow complicit police officers, the marginal decrease of sexual crimes reflected in the SAPS criminal report for Mpumalanga Province, is largely attributable to the fact that victims are encouraged not to proceed with a case that has been opened.

  11. Families, friends, and police officers who encourage a victim to drop charges against a perpetrator must themselves be charged with defeating the ends of justice.

  12. Ladies and gentlemen, this administration will continue to define fighting crime, as one of our apex priorities. Sekwanele !!!

  13. Working with all stakeholders, we are currently working towards the establishment of a new modernised, efficient and transformed criminal justice system to develop the capacity for fighting and reducing crime in real terms.

  14. There must be a more equitable distribution of police resources across the Province, so that we can increase the capacity of detective services, overcome our forensic backlog and improve prosecution.

  15. The time has come Provincial Commissioner, that when recruiting police officers, you must attract people with the necessary qualifications, educational, physical and operational skills, in order for them to close every potential loophole, that may weaken evidence crucial for prosecution.

  16. Our police stations must remain focal centres for coordinating mass mobilisation against crime. Our people must feel safe and secured whenever a need arise for them to enter a police station.

  17. They should not feel more victimised by the very same police officers who in the first place, are supposed to protect them.

  18. Once we can inculcate that mind-shift change amongst our police officers, we will succeed in dealing a deadly blow to crime.

  19. One of government’s priorities is combating violence and crime against women and children by increasing the capacity of the criminal justice system to deal with such violence.

  20. To this end, we see community policing forums (CPFs) as important and necessary instruments to achieve this goal. We need to move towards a society where the members of the public are active participants in deciding matters of their safety and security.

  21. To achieve this, we want to emphasize and encourage the people of Mpumalanga to be active participants in their local CPFs.

  22. We are acutely aware of the conflicts that exist between CPFs and community based organisations. I urge all parties to be united by the shared goal of ridding our communities of crime.

  23. We are developing a zero rated mobile app, equipped with geo tagging that will provide end users with immediate access to law enforcement facilities within their vicinity. This will not only aid tourists who are unfamiliar with Mpumalanga, but also people who receive poor service from our police officers.

  24. Plans are afoot to work extensively with the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services to remove the bottlenecks that have resulted in a large backlog of prosecution.

  25. Co-Programme Directors, we will embark on an outreach programme with Amakhosi/Makgoshi across the Province and civic formations urge our people to work with the police in the apprehension of criminals and not harbour them. If society continues buying stolen goods, such practices will fuel a proliferation of illicit and counterfeit goods, supplied by the criminals to the commercially flourishing market.

  26. We also urge faith based organisations, traditional leadership and civic formations to play their role when we convene moral regenerations programmes.

  27. Programme Director, the fight against crime requires an integrated approach which includes addressing decent values. If children from an early age are taught the values articulated by faith based organisations, the likelihood of them growing up to be responsible and caring adults is that much greater. Therefore, partnering with you will spearhead our goals of combating crime.

  28. The call we are making to you, as participants of this summit is to develop impact driven initiatives to make Mpumalanga safer and ultimately push back the frontiers of evil.

  29. I wish to also extend my appreciation to MEC VR Shongwe and Acting HOD for convening this gathering.

  30. In the weeks ahead, I will interact with the Minister of Police so that we can holistically review the functioning of police services in our Province so that we may achieve integration and coordination across the 90 police stations in the Province. The resolutions of this crime prevention summit will play a significant role in developing our posture for that engagement.

  31. I thank you.
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