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Crime stats: Cele takes exception to MPs suggesting that gangs have infiltrated the police

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  • Opposition MPs questioned the validity of the police’s crime statistics.
  • The stats again showed an increase in violent crime in the second quarter.
  • Cele took exception to claims that gangsters had infiltrated the police.

Opposition MPs doubt the veracity of the “depressing and worrying” crime statistics the police presented to the Portfolio Committee on Police on Wednesday morning, which showed an increase in violent crime between July and September this year, compared to the same period last year.

Police Minister Bheki Cele took exception to some of the MPs’ remarks, which suggested that gangs had infiltrated the police.

According to the police’s presentation to the committee on Wednesday, murders increased by 841 to 7 004 over the three months, compared to the 6 163 of the previous year, an increase of 13.6%.

Sexual offences increased by 1 319, an increase of 11%. Attempted murders increased by 19.4%, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm by 15.8%, common assault by 19.5%, common robbery by 25%, and robbery with aggravating circumstances by 22%.

The sexual offences include 10 590 rapes, which were reported in the three months, an increase of 1 034, or 10.8%.

READ | Kidnappings doubled nationally: over 4 000 cases reported to police from July to September

Furthermore, the murder statistics for the period include the murders of 989 women, 92 more than the same period for the previous year.

Also, in this period, 315 children were murdered, an increase of 9.8%.

Cele said this was worrying – but added that, because around 50% of rapes happened in the residences of perpetrators or victims, such crimes were “unpoliceable”.

Tina Joemat-Peterson

Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

Netwerk24 Adrian de Kock, Netwerk24

The chairperson of the committee, ANC MP Tina Joemat-Pettersson, said sexual offences were increasing, with close to 11 000 rapes within 90 days, meaning there were about 120 rapes reported daily.

Of the children murdered, she said: “This is very concerning.”

She also remarked that there were 83 rapes at educational facilities.

“It is very clear that our society must change,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe described the statistics as “depressing and worrying” and the murders of children as “heartbreaking”.

“One asks the question of whether we will ever live in a society where criminals are not in control in some streets. Because everything is increasing, serious crimes is increasing. Should we conclude that the police are failing? Should we conclude that we’ll forever live with these criminals causing havoc in our communities?” he said.

acdp

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe.

Netwerk24 Conrad Bornman

NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam said: “Let us for once at least admit that we have lost the war on crime.”

He said crime was “psychologically draining” on South Africans.  

Several opposition MPs questioned the validity of the statistics presented, mentioning that the Auditor-General recently raised discrepancies between what the police publicised and what was reported by police stations.

“I question the correctness of the crime statistics,” said FF-Plus leader Pieter Groenewald. “I don’t see this as a true reflection of the crime situation in South Africa.”

Pieter Groenewald.

DA MP Andrew Whitfield agreed that most South Africans would say the statics presented wasn’t an accurate representation of the situation.

“It is very clear the South African government and all its relevant departments – not just the police – but all of its relevant departments, is failing to contain the social dysfunctionality, which is one of the root causes of crime and the police themselves are becoming overwhelmed by criminals who are brazenly attacking police stations, killing police officers and operating with impunity,” said Whitfield.

“This environment occurs, chairperson, because we don’t get accurate figures, we don’t have a trust relationship where we trust the information provided to us by the minister.”

DA MP Okkie Terblanche, a former police general, said: “How can we really trust it as a true reflection of the situation on the ground?”

Andrew Whitfield,

DA MP Andrew Whitfield.

Supplied GCIS

According to Shaik-Emam, crimes were underreported.

“Many people are not reporting – that is how little faith people have in the police,” he said.

Cele said he disagreed, as Statistics South Africa helped the police to prepare the crime statistics.

“We have a leg to stand, because it is the Statistics SA we work with,” he said, adding that they were paying attention to the issues raised by the Auditor-General, which some members had referred to.

IFP MP Zandile Majozi said some police members used roadblocks to elicit bribes, while Terblanche said gangs had infiltrated the police.

“The police itself has become a crime syndicate,” said Terblanche.

“I’m going to choose my words carefully: We are learning that gangs penetrated the police. So how can the police be trusted? I’m not surprised by this performance.”

READ | Winde mulls inquiry into alleged collusion between gangs and cops

Terblanche was referring to a recent Western Cape High Court ruling on the bail appeal of two men accused of gang murders in Cape Town, in which Judge Daniel Thulare said the evidence suggested that gangs had infiltrated the Western Cape police all the way to the top brass.

Cele took exception to both remarks.

“This thing of police corruption, and police penetrated by criminals, and that based on the judgment of the Western Cape, is wrong,” said Cele.

He referred the committee to paragraph 70 of the ruling: “The evidence suggests not only a capture of some lower ranking officers in the SAPS.

“The evidence suggests that the senior management of the SAPS in the province has been penetrated to the extent that the 28s gang has access to the table where the provincial commissioner of the SAPS in the Western Cape sits with his senior managers and lead them in the study of crime, develop crime prevention strategies and decide on tactics and approach to the safety and security of inhabitants of the Western cape.

“This includes penetration of and access to the sanctity of the reports by specialised units like the Anti-Gang Unit and Crime Intelligence, to the provincial commissioner.

“The evidence further shows that the 28s gang and the Mobsters, in particular, are breathing heavily on the necks of public prosecutors who guide the investigation of organised crime and institute criminal proceedings against its members. Such prosecutors are under a constant and permanent threat to their lives and that of their close families.

“The evidence also shows that the Mobsters have now moved a gear upwards and are interfering with the decorum of the courts and the independence of judicial officers, and testing the judicial oath of office, especially the word ‘without fear’.”

Cele said: “The judge didn’t talk about the police, only that there are corrupt there. He talks about the corrupt police that are colluding with gangs there, he talks about judiciary, he talks about courts, he talks about prosecution that have been all of them penetrated by gangsterism.

“It’s insulting, it’s insensitive, police are bad, but a few of them – and many, many members of police are doing work honestly, protecting, serving indeed!”

He said the 140 000 people in prison proved that the police were doing their jobs.

READ | Deputy police minister tells Parliament some officers ‘have relationships with gangsters’

In contrast to Cele, his deputy, Cassel Mathale, earlier this month told the National Council of Provinces the police had a major problem with officers working with criminals.

“Some have been arrested and sentenced, as we speak. We have zero tolerance towards members (officers) who work with criminals. There was an issue raised about police officers having associations with gangsters. It’s true. There are some who have relationships with gangsters.

“We have taken action against those who are found to be working with gangsters or those working in a manner that is criminal. The service is at the disposal of the people of South Africa,” he said.

Due to time constraints, the committee couldn’t engage Cele and the top brass thoroughly on the crime statistics. This will be done at a later date.



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This Catholic priest fought narcos in Colombia, now he is to lead the peace process

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“I only slept three hours at night,” he recalled. “I did my second year of theology at the same time as my police promotion course.”

After his ordination, Suárez understood his mission was to help transform “the hearts of policemen.”

He volunteered for police patrol shifts from midnight to 6 a.m. While on patrol, he had long conversations with the men he was posted with; sometimes, he would hear their confessions or invite them to pray the rosary together.

Father Silverio Ernesto Suárez, Major General of the National Police of Colombia, with fellow members in uniform. Father Silverio Suárez
Father Silverio Ernesto Suárez, Major General of the National Police of Colombia, with fellow members in uniform. Father Silverio Suárez

One particular conversation with a colleague stands out in his mind: “Two days later, he was killed in a terrorist attack and we buried him.”

“I have seen so many comrades become victims of violence, who have been kidnapped and … were kept in the worst living conditions,” he added.

As a priest, Suárez also comforts and ministers to the families of his colleagues who have been kidnapped or killed.

In Colombia and other South American countries including Chile and Venezuela, it is not unusual for priests to be full members of the police force, Suárez said. He insists that “being a policeman and a priest is absolutely compatible.”

“What is the mission of the priest? Above all, serve God and serve your fellow men. What is the mission of the police? … To save lives, to defend life,” he said.

When asked about the use of violence, Suárez said that when his life has been in danger, he has had to defend himself, but fortunately, he has not had to kill anyone.

He has also devoted much of his time to serving prisoners and perpetrators detained by the police.

(Story continues below)

“In the detention rooms, there is barbaric overcrowding. In places where there were 150 inmates … they had to sleep squatting or sitting down because there was no place to lie down,” he said. “I bring them [clean] clothes. Many of them are very poor.”

He also offers Masses for the detainees and hears confessions. In some cases, Suárez has paid the bail, something that frustrated his police colleagues.

Suárez said that corruption within the police force is a serious issue, which is why he believes that good police training and formation are so important.

Father Silverio Ernesto Suárez, Major General of the National Police of Colombia, with Pope Francis. Father Silverio Suárez
Father Silverio Ernesto Suárez, Major General of the National Police of Colombia, with Pope Francis. Father Silverio Suárez

For the past year, Suárez, now 61 years old, was assigned to Rome, where he has been working to strengthen relations between the Colombian police force and the Italian police through a joint training program. The posting also gave him the opportunity to meet Pope Francis.

Drug trafficking continues to be the biggest problem facing Colombia, Suárez said, and the death toll inflicted by the cartels has been enormous.




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Illinois police release names of 5 family members found dead in home, includes two young children

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Authorities on Thursday released the names of five family members, including two young children, found dead inside a Chicago-area home this week.

Officers with the Buffalo Grove Police Department were called to a home Wednesday to check on the mother, Buffalo Grove Police Chief Brian Budds said Thursday. Officers forced their way inside and found five bodies, he said.

“Today is a very sad day for our community as we continue to process this unthinkable event,” Budds said.

CHICAGO’S LONGEST-SERVING ALDERMAN WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION WITH FEDERAL CORRUPTION TRIAL LOOMING: REPORTS

Buffalo Grove police were dispatched to a single-family residence in the 2800 block of Acacia Terrace for a call of a well-being check on a woman. Inside they found five dead family members, including two young children and an animal, police said.
(FOX 32 Chicago SkyFOX)

Investigators believe the killings were domestic-related.

The victims were identified Thursday as: Lilia Kisliak, 67; Andrei Kisliak, 39; Vera Kisliak, 36; Vivian Kisliak, 6; and 4-year-old Amilia Kisliak. An animal was also found dead at the scene.

Autopsies for all five revealed they died from sharp force injuries, the Lake County coroner said.

Authorities declined to disclose who inflicted the injuries or what kind of weapon was used. Vera Kisliak had sought protection orders in August and September and filed for divorce in July, Fox Chicago reported.

A co-worker of Vera Kisliak called the police on Wednesday, Budd said, which led to the discovery of all five family members.

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He also declined to comment on reports from neighbors that the police had been to the Kisliak home in the past month. A local resident told the Chicago-Sun-Times she called the police in August over concerns about how Andrei Kisliak treated the children.

  


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Ex-Florida official with ties to Gaetz sentenced to 11 years in sprawling public corruption case

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The disgraced former Florida tax collector who cooperated with federal authorities in their investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was sentenced Thursday to 11 years behind bars.

Joel Greenberg’s sentencing was delayed multiple times as he cooperated with state and federal authorities.

The sentencing brings to a close one of Seminole County’s most sprawling public corruption cases, which spurred inquiries into Gaetz and other public figures, including Halsey Beshears, a former state House member who also served as the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Beshears resigned from his government post in 2021, citing health issues. Greenberg, Gaetz and Beshears were named on a December 2020 federal grand jury subpoena.

Authorities have accused Greenberg, an elected tax collector in Central Florida, of financial crimes, stalking, identity theft, sex trafficking a minor and other offenses.

Greenberg was initially charged with more than 30 criminal counts, but in May 2021 pleaded guilty to six charges — including sex trafficking and fraud — in exchange for his cooperation in multiple cases, including a sex trafficking probe into Gaetz. The two men were once friends, and Gaetz described Greenberg as his “wingman” to acquaintances.

The Justice Department’s probe into Gaetz, which started in 2020 during the closing months of the Trump administration, was looking into whether the Florida congressman had sex with a 17-year-old woman and paid her for it. Gaetz, one of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters, had repeatedly denied the accusations and was never charged with a crime.

In September, a person with knowledge of the investigation indicated that the DOJ would likely not pursue charges against Gaetz.

Greenberg helped prosecutors secure convictions in several other cases, including Joe Ellicott, a collectibles dealer who was a groomsman at Greenberg’s wedding and received a 15-month sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and distributing a controlled substance.


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