Newly appointed National Police Commissioner General Khehla John Sitole’s main focus is to create a safe and secure environment for all South Africans.
This will be done through a turnaround strategy which will see the “the creation of a safe and secure environment into a crime-free conducive climate for socio-economic stability in support for a better life for all”.
Outlining his preliminary vision to the media on Thursday, less than 24-hours after his appointment to the top position, General Sitole said his strategies speak to combating gangsterism, reclaiming communities which are seen as a no-go area for police, fighting organised crime, the end of police killings and the reintroduction of Operation Fiela to deal with political killings in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal.
He believes when implemented right, these strategies will reduce crime and protect the outcomes of the National Development Plan and the economy so that people will continue investing and making a difference.
Stamping the authority of the state
General Sitole’s vision, which will be complemented by the theme, “On a journey to a safer South Africa”, will first see the SAPS stamping the authority of the state.
General Sitole said there are currently various ways in which crime undermines the authority of the state.
“We have a serious challenge of crime and the authority of the state is not taken seriously. Crime is starting to disable investment in SA – particularly in hotspots. It is also undermining the moral fibre of the country.”
South Africa is battling high serious crime rates which are on the rise. Crime statistics indicate that violent crimes in the 2016/2017 financial year are up, with murders and aggravated robberies up 1.8% and 6.4%, respectively.
Under this stamping of authority banner, General Sitole said the SAPS will seek to address police killings which have been a threat to police carrying out their duties.
This vision will see the 194 000 men and women employed in the SAPS equipped with the necessary training, resources and strategic guidance as required by the National Development Plan.
“The police safety strategy will be advanced and implemented so that the officers can be equal to the task.”
The stamping of the authority will also see SAPS reclaiming no-go areas which have been shut down by gangs. These areas include Nyanga in the Western Cape, parts of KZN, as well as Port Elizabeth.
“As part of the stamping of the authority of the state we will take these areas head on and stabilize the area,” said the new commissioner.
Cash movement strategy
Another focus point for the police will be addressing the high rate of cash-in-transit heists which affect the economy despite the response and investigative capacity that SAPS currently possess.
The SAPS in this light will introduce a Cash Movement Strategy to deal with the criminal activities which target security companies which are currently being attacked in isolation.
Modus operandi capacity
In order to combat organised crime activities, General Sitole announced that SAPS will also formulate a modus operandi capacity within the SAPS.
“We are currently chasing the crimes committed by criminals forgetting that criminals sit down and design modus operandi that will commit one million crimes. When one of these crimes are reported we rush and investigate but we never deal with the modus operandi. The combatting measure is not only to focus on the crime but the operandi itself,” said General Sitole.
In this light, the General said they would introduce a powerhouse concept within SAPS which will include combining all the men and women in blue to develop counter modus operandi strategy that will neutralise the criminals.
General Sitole’s vision will also see the enhancement of the operationalization of the policing efforts which will be achieved through community partnerships.
This will see the review of the national crime strategy in order to be aligned to the NDP.
“This will also see the development of a National Crime Prevention framework for the country as well as a local policing strategy with the aim of gaining the confidence of the communities.”
Currently, the SAPS have the Community Police Forums as a tool to engage and get communities active in the fight against crime but General Sitole believes that more can be achieved if they are refocused.
De-resourcing of criminals
Another strategy will be the de-resourcing of criminals which will “take away young people from the hands of the criminals” who use them for their criminal activities. A formalizing Youth Crime Prevention Framework will be developed in this regard.
General Sitole’s appointment
President Jacob Zuma announced General Sitole’s appointment on Wednesday to take over from acting commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba, who replaced acting commissioner Lieutenant-General Kgomotso Phahlane only six months ago.
A career cop, who rose from the ranks, is the first police commissioner to be appointed permanently since Riah Phiyega was suspended in 2015.
General Sitole, 53, has not been a regular face in the media, but when he did appear in the public eye, it was related to SAPS operations and routine matters such as briefings on successful operations, comments on high-profile cases and efforts for community mobilization.
Honoured to serve SA
General Sitole, who described himself a patriotic person, said he was honoured to serve the nation.
“I acknowledge the confidence that the state has demonstrated by vesting this opportunity on me to serve and turn policing around in the country. This job shall not be done for a salary but for a calling,” he said, adding that it’s a vision that he wants to instil in the rest of the force.
The General committed to defend the integrity of the police, saying he will not bow to political pressure.
General Sitole is a career officer, having joined the police in 1986 as a student constable. He served and obtained practical exposure at all levels of the organization connecting from police station to province and national office which gained him practical experience through serving in both the Organisational Support and Operations within the SAPS.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula believes that Sitole’s experience will assist in the fight against crime.
“General Sitole possess strategic policy framework understanding of the service and has fresh ideas in this regard. He has in the past been involved in the development of numerous policies, legislation, and strategies which link the police service to the broader framework of government, the international community and our diverse nation.”
Sword Hand Over Ceremony
On Monday, President Zuma will preside over a Sword Hand Over Ceremony of General Sitole as the National Police Commissioner at the SAPS Tshwane College.