IRR to Cele: Empower communities and responsible citizens, make government work for the people to win fight against crime

29 January 2021 - It was reported this week that residents of rural villages in the Peddie district of the Eastern Cape took matters into their own hands after finally being pushed beyond the limits of patience by the lacklustre attitude and incompetence of the South African Police Service (SAPS). They stormed the remote Tyefu police station and locked six officers inside. Four suspects latterly appeared in court, the case being postponed to 18 February.

It was reported this week that residents of rural villages in the Peddie district of the Eastern Cape took matters into their own hands after finally being pushed beyond the limits of patience by the lacklustre attitude and incompetence of the South African Police Service (SAPS). They stormed the remote Tyefu police station and locked six officers inside. Four suspects latterly appeared in court, the case being postponed to 18 February.
 
The failings that drove these citizens to take such drastic action against police officers are endemic across South Africa, and failings which the implementation of the IRR’s Community Safety Charter would address directly.
 
The storming of the Tyefu police station reflects a frustration with crime and the government’s perpetual inability to effectively fight back against criminals and make South African communities safe that is shared by millions across the country. IRR polling shows that crime-related concerns rank consistently high among South Africans from all backgrounds.
 
“Useless and unreliable” is how one inhabitant of the communities meant to be served by the Tyefu police station described the police, adding that crime was out of control. It is difficult to imagine many South Africans outside the Cabinet disagreeing with this description of our national situation. SAPS is a national embarrassment, but one that has had tragic consequences; communities have paid dearly for the government’s policing failures over many years.
 
It is precisely because of the reality that communities are more invested in their own safety than a remote government can possibly be that the IRR takes the unequivocal stance that all policing must be community-centred rather than government-centred. Where government failures have cost lives, communities must be empowered to save lives.
 
The IRR’s Community Safety Charter empowers South Africans to take control of the safety and security of their communities with the support of government. Instead of having politicians choose station commanders, citizens must be able to elect them, and fire them if they fail to perform. The Charter brings an end to cadre and crony appointments, taking the safety concerns of South Africans seriously enough to not play racial politics with vital appointments. The Charter ensures that the police hire only the best to keep our communities safe. Crucially, the Charter puts in place accountability mechanisms to root out the rot within SAPS once and for all.
 
Said Hermann Pretorius, IRR Head of Strategic Initiatives: “While the solutions to winning the fight against crime might not be easy, the fundamental principles to win this fight are simple: empower communities, empower responsible citizens, and make government work for the people. This is what is at the heart of the IRR’s Community Safety Charter. South Africans must take up this challenge to chart a new and better course to fundamentally change government policy. Only if citizens make government listen can we together achieve the change we need.”
 
You can read our Community Safety Charter by clicking this link.

 
Media contact: Hermann Pretorius, IRR Head of Strategic Initiatives – 079 875 4290; hermann@irr.org.za
Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za
Kelebogile Leepile Tel: 079 051 0073 Email: kelebogile@irr.org.za
 

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