New police minister, Nkosinathi Nhleko is certainly behaving like a new broom, at least in as far as what he says is concerned. According to the minister, the police force will be a new organisation come the end of his term in office in five years time. When Nkosinathi Nhleko was announced as the new minister of police after the May 7 elections, he knew what he was letting himself in for. He has made it clear that he is aware of all the problems bedeviling the South African Police Services and he is intent on solving them.
Speaking in parliament on Monday, minister Nhleko told the legislators that it was his intention to change the face of the SAPS by making sure that they get the right people for the job of trying to turn the force around. He added that nepotism and corruption, which have dogged the police for a long time, would not be tolerated, emphasizing that all officers would be expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner. Nhleko told the assembly that his ministry had put in place measures to build capacity within the police’s crime investigation units throughout the country’s positive step in achieving this target was the fact that a number of key senior and middle management positions had been filled. This, Nhleko said, was key as it assisted the service in the fight against crime, adding that its importance could not be over-emphasized.
The new minister expounded on the various factors that had eroded the image of the South African Police Services in the eyes of the public as well as from an internal point of view. Starting from the inside, Nhleko said that last year only, there were over 1000 reported police officers, most of whom were high ranking, who had been convicted of crimes ranging from burglary, rape to murder, crimes that were committed while they were still in the service. He added that an addition, 300 were still able to get jobs in the force despite having criminal records. Moving on to the public image of the police, Minister Nhleko said a number of highly publicized police brutality cases had negatively affected the image of the force. These included the killing of Andries Tatane in the Free State in 2011, the dragging of Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia behind a police van which later led to his death and the high profile shooting of 34 Marikana miners in 2012. These, he said, had seriously damaged the image of the SAPS and there was an urgent need to rectify the situation.
Musa Zondi, who is the spokesperson for the ministry, informed members of the media that the minister would soon be embarking on a nationwide tour which would include a visit to all the provinces to assess the problems within the organisation. He added that the minister would endeavor to meet with members of the force to discuss the issues and problems they encounter.