Young people complicit in more than four out of five crime operations

President Jacob Zuma and newly appointed National Police Commissioner General Khehla John Sitole.
President Jacob Zuma and newly appointed National Police Commissioner General Khehla John Sitole.

Young people are complicit in more than four out of every five crime operations.

This is according to new national police commissioner General Khehla John Sitole.

“In almost more than 80% of their operations‚ they (criminals) use a young person‚” Sitole said on Thursday at the Pretoria West Police College during his first media conference as top cop.

He said criminals use young people in hijackings‚ among other crimes.

“We are going to make sure that we take away the most precious resource for criminals: Take a young person out of reach [of criminals].”

Sitole said the police will tackle this challenge with community and youth policing. He believes the police must “stamp” their authority on communities who protect criminals.

President Jacob Zuma announced Sitole’s appointment on Wednesday. Sitole joined the police in 1986. He became provincial commissioner in the Free State in 2011‚ deputy national commissioner of policing in 2013 and divisional commissioner of protection and security services in 2016.

Sitole wants to revive the police’s Organised Crime Threat Analysis (OCTA) to analyse the modus operandi of criminal syndicates.

“Currently we are chasing the crime that is committed by criminals‚ but criminals sit down and they design a modus operandi that is capable of producing one million crimes. When only one of these crimes is committed‚ we rush after it‚ we investigate‚ but we never deal with the modus operandi.”

Sitole is the first permanent national police commissioner since General Riah Phiyega was suspended in October 2015. Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane and Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba serve as acting national commissioners in the interim.

Sithole is the sixth police commissioner appointed by Zuma and the first 'career cop' to be appointed as permanent national police commissioner since then-president Nelson Mandela appointed General George Fivaz in January 1995.

Sitole said he will advise Police Minister Fikile Mbalula what policies are the best for police operations. He added that he cannot implement policing without Mbalula’s support.

He was asked about his independence and possible political interference.

“It will be my continuous responsibility to protect the integrity of the SAPS‚ but due to the vision that I share and the strategic capacity that I have required‚ I don’t foresee myself at any instance defending it against the minister‚ because I’ll proactively orientate him.”

Sitole said crime hindered economic growth which was crucial to the National Development Plan (NDP).

“Crime has manifested itself in such a manner that it has begun to disable investment in certain areas‚ especially the [crime] hotspots.”

According to Sitole‚ there is currently an embargo on police spending from National Treasury. He said the embargo prevents the police from expanding its force and building new police stations.

“We have got an obligation to increase the number of police stations in the country‚ because we must increase access to service delivery which is a contradiction in terms [of the embargo].”

Sitole said the police can stop cash-in-transit heists. He criticised criminals who kill police officers.

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