Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster Media Briefing Statement
Directors-General and Heads of other institutions present
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Fellow South Africans
Good morning to you all,
Thank you very much for joining us this morning for a briefing on the security stability of our country.
The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) notes with deep concern the unfolding incidents of violence and lawlessness in some parts of our country. We want to assert government’s position that any lawlessness will not be tolerated. Government will not hesitate to enforce the laws of the country and we will continue to act speedily and decisively on any criminal activity in South Africa under any guise.
SPORADIC ATTACKS AGAINST FOREIGN NATIONALS
The recent spate of attacks against foreign nationals in some parts of the Kwa-Zulu Natal province must be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all South Africans. The Constitution of our country protects the rights of all people living within the country, South Africans and foreigners alike; Government will do everything within the law to ensure safety of all citizens and foreign nationals irrespective of their status.
President Jacob Zuma has assigned the Ministers of Home Affairs (Mr Malusi Gigaba), Police (Mr Nathi Nhleko) and State Security (Mr David Mahlobo) to work with the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Provincial Government to arrest the violence that has broken out in some Durban residential areas. The KZN Provincial Government has established an Inter-Departmental Task Team to coordinate the response.
A Provincial JOINTS Priority Committee has been activated to coordinate government departments in responding to these incidences of violence against foreign nationals in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Additional law enforcement officers have been mobilised from around the country and deployed to the affected areas to enforce the law and prevent further attacks. Thus far, at least 48 suspects have been apprehended since the past weekend. All district disaster management centres have been placed on high-alert and a 24-hour call centre has been established. Shelters have been set-up to accommodate displaced foreign nationals and basic amenities such as water, sanitation, and healthcare are being provided.
Government is working closely with the UNHCR, UNICEF as well as non-governmental organisations to provide food, psycho-social and other support to those affected. The process of reintegrating those who were displaced back into their communities has begun. Community engagements are being conducted through the Communities in Dialogue programme, Community Safety Forums, Ward Committees, and through Community Development Workers, amongst others.
We would like to remind the people of South Africa that our country is a signatory to various international protocols and obligations, such as the Geneva Protocol on Refugees, which promotes human rights, protect the rights of refugees. Accordingly, we reiterate the call made by President Zuma for South Africans to operate within the law. As South Africans, we should refuse to be part of the attacks on innocent people, merely because they happen to be foreigners. Those who are in the country illegally should be reported to the police and they will be returned to their countries of origin in a lawful manner.
Whilst government is going to be taking resolute action against South Africans who attack foreign nationals, we are equally determined to take action against all foreign nationals who commit crime in our country. The possession of unlicensed firearms by foreign nationals and South Africans is a matter of serious concern to our Cluster. Each and every person working and living in the country must obey the law. We have established dedicated court rooms and appointed dedicated prosecutors as well as foreign language interpreters to ensure that justice is meted out swiftly in these cases.
We all know that it is incorrect to argue, as some amongst us do, that crime is committed mainly by non-South Africans. Even if we suspect or have evidence that some people are engaged in crime, we should work with our law enforcement agencies so that these criminals are arrested. This applies equally to South Africans and foreigners because a criminal is a criminal, irrespective of nationality and should be made to face the might of the law. Indeed if some foreigners are involved in criminal activities, we cannot mete out collective punishment to all foreigners because of the criminal activities deeds of bad few individuals.
DEFACING, DAMAGING AND DESTRUCTION OF MONUMENTS
We continue to note with concern various acts of vandalism of statues and other monuments. These actions of vandalism are contrary to the principles of the Constitution and the also constitute a criminal act. Government is aware of the sentiments in the country relating to our racist and colonial past. We do understand the frustration from sections of our society who may feel the programme of building new heritage architecture is moving slowly. It must be emphasised that much as we understand these frustrations, there are processes that need to be followed to deal with any of these matters related to the monuments.
There are laws in place that regulate the removal and preservation of any undesirable historic monument. The National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 outlines the consultative processes that should be followed in the case of a removal and or relocation of a statue. It is important i that everything is done in an orderly fashion and according to the laws of the land. We remind our people that the destruction of statues is illegal.
Vandalisation and the destruction of these statues constitute a crime and will force the police to protect such figures which in turn take away our resources from fighting crime. This has a negative impact on our crime fighting efforts whereas, if the processes for dealing with these matters were followed in an orderly manner, there would be no need to divert limited resources to guarding the statues. However, government will not turn a blind eye on any crime. Destruction of any property is a criminal offence and those that are involved will face the full might of the law.
ILLEGAL LAND OCCUPATION
In a similar vein, the illegal occupation of private and state-owned land that we have witnessed in recent days will not be allowed to continue. In February 2014 the National Assembly passed the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill, which reopened the land restitution process. The new deadline, which applies to any person dispossessed of their property after 19 June 1913, paves the way for all qualifying South Africans who missed the initial 31 December 1998 deadline to lodge land claims. Therefore, there is absolutely no justification for any illegal land invasions.
Government remains committed to land reform in accordance within the rule of law. The expropriation of land without compensation is not government policy. We will continue to be guided by our progressive Constitution that recognises and sets out measures to address deep-rooted inequalities of our past. Government will continue to pursue the “just and equitable” principle for compensation, as set out in the Constitution instead of the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, which forces the state to pay more for land than the actual value.
No person has a right to allow, encourage, motivate, organise and/or instigate the occupation of land of whatever nature. Communities are urged to work with government and report people who are instigating the illegal invasion of government or private -owned land. We also urge land owners who fall prey to invaders to, without delay, approach the courts for an eviction order in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction From and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, 1998 (Act 19 of 1998).
We do not condone illegal invasion of land, whatsoever. We urge South Africans to make use of laws and processes that prescribe how land issues should be handled. The JCPS will not stand by and watch while these acts of illegal land invasions continue in our country. We will not hesitate to ensure that those who break these laws that are binding upon all of us are held responsible.
THREAT OF RADICALIZATION OF SOUTH AFRICAN YOUTH
The recruitment and radicalization of particularly young people to take part in acts of terror is a growing global concern. The JCPS Cluster will not allow South Africa to be used as a recruitment platform for terror groups. We wish to reiterate our resolve to ensure that South Africa remains a place where people feel and are safe.
As we conclude, we want to sound a note of caution to all South Africans not to lend themselves to terrorist activities. Agencies of the JCPS Cluster, working closely with the parents, have recently rescued a 15-year-old Cape Town girl from potential recruitment into an international terror organisation.
Against that background, we encourage the community at large, and parents in particular, to exercise caution and be concerned about any activities their children may be involved with. Cyber technology has proven itself to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it enables development, whilst, on the other hand, greater Internet accessibility poses major risks – especially for children. Parents should take an extra effort to monitor their children’s online activities. Parents and guardians need to know who their children are chatting with. They need to know what websites their children visit. We need to keep our children safe.
Ms Nikelwa Tengimfene,
Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster Supervisor
Cell: 082 574 5495
Issued by Government Communication and Information System
14 April 2015