The police are failing to arrest criminals

Dan Plato MPP

Western Cape Minister of Community Safety

The police are failing to carry out their duties and protect our public, and the Western Cape Police Commissioner, General Arno Lamoer will have to explain why his officers are not making arrests when crimes are committed right in front of them.

On Wednesday, 12 June 2013 a group of thugs supporting the 183 individuals arrested for illegal protests stole from and assaulted a business vendor on the Grand Parade while returning from the Magistrate’s Court. While the police stopped the supporters from causing serious harm to the man who was trying to get back his stolen property, they failed to make any arrests.

When questioned on why no arrests were made the Police spokesperson’s flippant response was that no arrests were made as no complaints were lodged regarding the incident.

The man assaulted must have feared for his life when this large group first stole from him, and then violently assaulted him when he tried to take back his own property. Of course he will be intimidated and not want to lay a charge, it is then up to the police to take action of their own accord. Section 40 of the Criminal Procedures Act gives them the power to do this, so there is no excuse!

My department is in the process of tracking down the business vendor to find out if we can provide any assistance in helping him to lay a charge as the police failed to act at the time of the crime committed. I will also be handing out safety information with important safety contact numbers to other vendors in the area.

Section 40 of the Criminal Procedures Act states: “A peace officer may without warrant arrest any person – (a) who commits or attempts to commit any offence in his presence; (b) whom he reasonably suspects of having committed an offence referred to in Schedule 1, other than the offence of escaping from lawful custody;”

There it is in black and white – I would encourage all police officers to read this, and carry out their duties.

Section 205 (3) of the South African Constitution states, “The objects of the police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law.”

By not arresting the perpetrators involved in this crime, the police have failed to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Western Cape, and have failed to uphold the law.

Will the police have the same argument if they find someone driving under the influence of alcohol on a public road? Would they still argue that they cannot arrest the person because they are waiting for someone to lay a complaint? Because the vendor didn’t lay a charge can the mob return and carry on beating the man until they are separated again? How many times can they do this before someone is arrested?

While there are many good police officers on the job, those willfully neglecting their duties are not only harming the police’s reputation, but they are putting lives at risk, and this cannot be tolerated.

We receive numerous complaints from the public that the police refuse to act when witnessing a crime, i.e. arrest someone – until a complaint is lodged. If the police witness a crime they are obligated to act, not to sit on their hands in an attempt to avoid paperwork.

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