'We're not winning the war on crime,' says Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba

Public safety MMC Michael Sun, mayor Herman Mashaba and metro police chief David Tembe on Monday released the latest crime statistics. Mashaba bemoaned the crimes committed by undocumented foreign nationals and the justice system for allowing criminals out on bail too easily.
Public safety MMC Michael Sun, mayor Herman Mashaba and metro police chief David Tembe on Monday released the latest crime statistics. Mashaba bemoaned the crimes committed by undocumented foreign nationals and the justice system for allowing criminals out on bail too easily.
Image: Iavan Pijoos

Mayor Herman Mashaba has conceded that more needs to be done to win the war against crime in Johannesburg.

"I don't really believe that we are winning, but we are getting a sense of what is happening and it helps us with our planning," he said on Monday. "The reason we are not winning is because we run a municipality, a highly regulated environment in terms of our competency."

Mashaba was speaking during the release of crime statistics for July.

He was accompanied by metro police chief David Tembe and MMC for public safety Michael Sun.

Mashaba said his biggest concern was "the consequences" for those who perpetrate crime.

"Our JMPD officers work hard every day and arrest people, and two days later they are out on bail."

He referred to a case in Hillbrow in March where a man committed a robbery with a toy gun. The case was subsequently withdrawn.

"Basically what they [the justice system] are saying is let him go out and continue threatening the lives of our people because it's a toy gun. What kind of legal system is this?

"How will our residents know it's a toy gun? This is total failure of our criminal justice system. If they don't take kindly to this, tough luck."

Mashaba also raised the issue of serious crimes committed by foreigners within the country.

"It is unacceptable. When I raised this matter of undocumented people in our country back in 2016, I was called names and I was insulted. Look at the statistics and the type of crimes they commit.

"Now you and I, as taxpayers, must feed them in prison every day. I will never accept this and I will question this.

"We are not saying all foreign nationals must be sent back, we are saying those who qualify, please give them documentation so that we know who they are," he said.

Tembe said illegal dumping was a big problem in Alexandra.

Thirteen trucks were impounded in July for illegal dumping in the area. "We really need to do something about it," he said.

Tembe highlighted fatalities on city freeways, saying 11 deaths in July were too many.

The JMPD had only one disciplinary case registered for corruption and 11 for misconduct in July.

"Our officers are no more cool-drink money officers, they are officers who go out there and serve the community."

With regards to high-priority cases, Tembe said there was a unit that "traces each case to make sure of a successful prosecution".

He mentioned a case in January 2018 where a man who was under the influence drove into three JMPD officers.

He pleaded guilty and will appear in court this week for a plea bargain.

On the issue of illegal land invasion in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, Mashaba said he had written to the Gauteng departments of human settlements and co-operative governance and traditional affairs for a joint approach on the current illegal land invasions in the area.

"On one hand, it is the crisis of landlessness in Johannesburg, created through an unimaginative approach to housing delivery and land ownership, which has resulted in informal settlements mushrooming across the province.

"On the other hand is the need to ensure orderly law enforcement in settlements to redress spatial inequality in a manner which brings people closer to potential work opportunities."

Sun said "policing was thin" with its current resources but the city was expected to start a new unit.

"The unit will be looking at all the reckless and negligent drivers across Johannesburg. We are saying to those drivers who don't want to drive nicely - speed kills, drunken driving kills."

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