Armed robbery was lowest under Bheki Cele - IRR

Frans Cronje says former SAPS national commissioner had the best record in this regard

Armed robbery was lowest under Bheki Cele - expert

Johannesburg - Bheki Cele's tenure as national police commissioner recorded a sharp decline in the number of armed robberies in the country, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Wednesday.

By contrast, both the rate of armed robberies and the number of cases had "alarming" increases under Riah Phiyega.

"Maybe he [Cele] had the right approach all along?" SAIRR CEO Frans Cronje asked reporters in Johannesburg, during the release of a report on crime trends over 20 years.

He said that over the 1994/95 to 2013/14, "Bheki Cele has the best record" in the armed robbery figures over the other commissioners. 

The report even found that Cele's era coincided with the global financial crises, yet he managed to drive the aggravated robbery levels down.

Cronje said that it was however worth noting that the 2010 Fifa World Cup, where there was considerable visible policing, also happened under Cele's tenure.

"Every bridge and intersection had police. Where are they [now]? They should come back."

He also said that despite the decline under Cele, the levels of armed robberies were still high.

"None of their [national police commissioners'] performances are stellar. Claiming success must be done carefully and in a measured way," Cronje said.

Phiyega inquiry

Phiyega has until Monday to motivate why she should not be suspended pending the inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

This followed a report by an inquiry into the deaths at Marikana, which recommended that Phiyega face an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

Cronje said a possible hike in the police's crime statistics for 2014/15, which are expected to be released on Tuesday, had put more pressure for sanctions against Phiyega, than the Marikana report.

He said that ideally any potential replacement should be chosen from the police force, if there were any officers of "calibre" there.

"They can't have the wool pulled over their eyes," he said.

"What we want to see is a return to basics. The discipline [in the police] has to come back."

Cele was removed as police commissioner in 2012 after a board of inquiry found that he had acted dishonestly and with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police lease deals he signed.

He is currently the deputy minister of agriculture.

This article first appeared on News24here