The MEC for Community Safety in Mpumalanga, Mr Vusi Shongwe, openly admitted in a departmental oversight committee meeting that the police have lost control over crime in the province.
During the meeting, the MEC confirmed that local crime syndicates are currently stronger than the province’s police force, and that bribery is rampant. Criminals reportedly have more and better firearms than police officers.
“Dirty” money is also believed to play an alarming role in the bribery of police officers.
At the moment, cash-in-transit heists in particular seem to pose the biggest threat to public safety.
The provincial crime statistics for the first quarter of the 2023-2024 financial year indicate that it is one of the fastest growing forms of robbery with aggravating circumstances.
The period from April to June saw 64 incidents of cash-in-transit heists, compared to 54 incidents during the same period last year. That is an alarming increase of 18,5%.
After Gauteng, most cash-in-transit heists occur in Mpumalanga and the province makes up 13% of all such incidents in the country, the second most of all the provinces.
What is particularly striking about these robberies is the brutality demonstrated by criminals and the violence often accompanying such incidents. Equally alarming is the apparent inability of the criminal justice system to stop them, and the involvement of corrupt police members.
Three members of the White River Flying Squad appeared before the Malalane Magistrate’s Court earlier this week for their alleged involvement in cash-in-transit heists in the province. The entire Flying Squad unit was subsequently temporarily disbanded for investigations.
Meanwhile, four more accused were arrested on Tuesday and appeared before the same court on Wednesday. Bail was denied.
This followed shortly after a Mbombela traffic police member appeared before the Hazyview Magistrate’s Court for her alleged involvement in a transit robbery.
The public cannot be blamed for increasingly losing faith in a police service which is clearly giving up on the fight against crime.
The only way to change this is to vote for a coalition government in 2024.