Ramaphosa lauds police’s ‘hard work’, but experts say ‘too little, too late’


Conceding the South African society was reeling from the impact of lawlessness, crime and gender-based violence (GBV), President Cyril Ramaphosa was on Friday upbeat about progress made by police in arresting and investigating criminal cases involving those behind the crimes and gang rape last week of eight women in the mining town Krugersdorp, on the West Rand.

But a leading security analyst Dr Johan Burger, has dismissed Ramaphosa’s remarks, describing them as “too little, too late”.

Addressing a packed presidential social sector summit at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg, Ramaphosa called on delegates to applaud police for their efforts in response to the arrest of 80 suspects – allegedly linked to crime – saying police were “hard at work with investigations”.

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Said Ramaphosa: “We can all understand the public outrage in Kagiso sparked by the gang rape of eight young women last week, and we all deeply and sincerely share in the pain of the victims – their families and the neighbouring communities.

“As we commend the police for apprehending suspected illegal miners and shutting down their operations, they (police) must double their efforts in catching those responsible for the heinous crime of gang-raping the young women.

“This horrific crime is a reminder that as government, and as a society, we must do more to tackle gender-based violence.

“Over the last few years, as a result of cooperation between government and civil society, we have strengthened the response of the criminal justice system to such crimes.”

Reacting to Ramaphosa’s remarks, Burger said: “With all due respect, this from the president has come too little, too late.

“What we would want to see apart from the criminal investigations – is a probe into the allegations by locals, that they had been complaining to the police over the years about the criminal activities of the zama zamas.

“They have told of how they have lived in fear because the police apparently ignored them.”

Burger said the alleged gang rape was “an indictment” that the government and the police allowed a situation to develop for the worse and – in spite of repeated public complaints – could only act after a tragedy such as a mass rape”.

READ MORE: Illegal miners: With pressure from communities, police can make similar arrests – expert

Ramaphosa told the gathering, attended by non-governmental organisation and government officials and social activists, that civil society has “consistently confronted entrenched practices that are discriminatory and harmful to women and girls”.

“Civil society organisations play a key role in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.

“Twenty-eight years into our democracy, the role of civil society is as critical as ever. Poverty, unemployment and inequality remain the most pressing challenges facing South Africa,” said Ramaphosa.

He implored South Africans to “distinguish between legitimate protest and criminality”.

DA shadow deputy minister of police, Okkie Terblanche, said despite police operations “following the horrific rapes of eight women in Krugersdorp”, a connection between the arrested and the crime had yet to be proven.

“Reactive policing when there is public outcry following atrocious villainy will not put a dent in South Africa’s sky-high crime statistics,” Terblanche said.

“Saps’ lack of proper intelligence and glaring lack of proactive policing have put all communities, not only those where the zama zamas operate, in increasing danger.”

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Source: citizen