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Police not coping with serious violent crime, ISS laments

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A steady rise in murder and armed robbery shows police are not getting a grip on serious violent crime in South Africa, despite a budget increased by almost 50% since 2011/12 to R87 billion.

This is largely due to inappropriate political interference in the police, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said in response to the latest SA Police Service (SAPS) crime statistics released on Tuesday in Parliament.

The National Development Plan called it a ‘crisis of top management’ in the SAPS. President Jacob Zuma’s presidency has resulted in a profound deterioration in policing and caused notable decline in public safety, the ISS said.

Murder

Police reported murder up 1.8% with 52 people now killed every day in South Africa on average. The murder rate has increased 13.3% in the past five years, following a 55% decrease in the first 18 years of South Africa’s democracy since 1994.

Armed robbery

In the latest SAPS figures, armed robbery increased by 8 429 cases to 140 956 (up 6.4%).

More than half of all reported armed robberies are street robberies with 79 878 recorded in the 12 months under review. Every day on average 219 cases of street robbery were reported. Street robberies increased by around 5% compared to the previous year and by 38.6% over five years.

Street robbery primarily affects the poor and working classes as it typically targets people who travel on foot and who need to use public transport to and from work, school or shops. It is one of the most feared crimes.

Armed attacks on people’s homes have increased by 1 523 reported incidents to 22 343 incidents (up 7.3%). There were 982 more armed attacks on businesses, up 5% to 20 680.

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Hijacking

Hijacking of cars is up 77.5% in the past five years and up 14.5% in the year under review. There are now 46 cars hijacked a day in South Africa, more than half (52%) of them in Gauteng, where an average 24 cars are forcibly taken from drivers by armed gunmen daily.

SAPS leadership crisis

“Police reported murder up 1.8% with 52 people now killed every day in South Africa on average”

The ISS recognised the bold efforts of many competent and honest police in South Africa, but said the root of the crime and policing crises in South Africa was the failure of the president to appoint a highly experienced woman or man of integrity as SAPS National Commissioner. Ongoing political interference at all levels of the SAPS has severely weakened the organisation.

The political protection of Zuma loyalist, Crime Intelligence Head Lt-General Richard Mdluli, who has been suspended for six years with full pay and benefits despite facing criminal prosecution for murder and corruption, is one of many examples, said Gareth Newham, head of the ISS Justice and Violence Prevention Programme.

‘The protection of Mdluli has severely undermined and compromised police crime intelligence capability. This is why police cannot adequately tackle organised crime syndicates behind crimes such as hijackings and gang violence.’

The SAPS can only be professionalised when there ceases to be inappropriate political interference that favours some officers because of their political loyalties, irrespective of their conduct and ability.

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If political interference is halted, then South Africans have good reason to expect better results from the police, said Newham.

‘The police have sufficient skilled operational commanders, resources and technology to effectively tackle violent criminal syndicates and gangs. But they need the right leadership for it to be effective.’

Change would need to start with the way the SAPS National Commissioner is appointed. The ISS and Corruption Watch are urging President Jacob Zuma to follow guidelines in the NDP, as adopted by the cabinet in 2012, and appoint South Africa’s top cop based on competence, experience and integrity – not political loyalty.

‘The same criminals commit many violent crimes from murder to hijacking and armed robbery,’ Newham said. ‘Failure by police to identify violent criminals and investigate their crimes just keeps them on the street as a continued public danger. Police could prevent hundreds of hijackings by stopping the activity of just one syndicate.’

Better investigation

The ISS said police urgently need to improve their capability to investigate crime, gather evidence and arrest the perpetrators. This requires police to earn the trust of communities and reverse a decline in trust levels, as indicated by the most recent Victims of Crime Survey (VoCS).

The annual SAPS crime statistics released on Tuesday cover the period April 2016 to March 2017 and are not a reflection of the past seven months in South Africa.

The ISS has noted that the VoCS found nearly five times more house robberies than those recorded by police, Newham said. ‘It may be that the police are under-recording such incidents or that there are other reasons for difference in numbers. But we need to get to the bottom of this as accurate information is critical if we are to develop effective strategies for reducing crime.’

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The ISS encouraged police to work closely with Stats SA and civil society groups to ensure crime data is accurate, and that crime is tackled in a collaborative way.

The ISS points out that corruption is not a category included in the crime statistics, despite it being a criminal threat to South Africa’s economy and social cohesion.

‘Corruption undermines public safety as it weakens the economy, breaks down confidence in government and leads to community frustration.’ The public need to see that the police are proactively tackling this profound threat to our national security, the ISS said.

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Crime & Court

#EndSARS: Makinde Frees 6 Suspects Arrested At Ogbomoso’s Protest

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No fewer than six suspects arrested in connection with the crisis that visited the protest against police brutality at Ogbomoso recently have been freed by the court as prayed by Oyo State governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde.

The suspects include Olaoluwa Busayo, Olagoke David, Olusola Matthew, Amole Adebayo, Adedokun Segun and Ganiyu Saheed.

The protest against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) had led to vandalization of the palace of Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade on Sunday 10th of October, 2020 while the six suspects were apprehended by the police as being part of those responsible for the attack on the palace.

A statement issued by the State Ministry of Justice, titled ‘Re-unconditional Release of the 6 Suspects Arrested In Ogbomoso in Connection with Ongoing National Protest’ and signed by the Director Public Prosecution, Mr Nathaniel Okeniyi on Tuesday and made available to the press said, upon the visit of the State governor to Ogbomoso immediately after the incident after which the governor visited the palace and later addressed protesters, he promised to set the arrested individuals free as demanded by the protesters.

“Sequel to the promise of his Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde at Ogbomoso to effect the release of the suspects arrested in connection with the protest, today, being 19th October, 2020, the Chief Magistrate Court 2, Iyaganku Ibadan, on application of Attorney General has discharged and withdrawn the charge filed against the suspects forthwith.”

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Recall that governor Seyi Makinde gave his support to peaceful protest which he said was borne out of high level of youths’ unemployment and poverty in the land, he called on the police to take the back sit in the protest while the men of ‘Operation Burst’ should give the protesters adequate protection and avert its being hijacked by hoodlums.

 

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Crime & Court

Ibadan: EFCC Secures Conviction of Fraudsters, Arraigns Three

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Justice Sherifat Adeyemi of the Oyo State High Court, Ibadan, on Wednesday, sentenced one Balaji Salami to prison for fraud.

The convict was prosecuted by the Ibadan Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on amended one-count charge of obtaining money by false pretence, contrary to Section 419 of the Criminal Code Cap 38, Laws of Oyo State 2000.

The charge read: “That you Bolaji Salami sometime in March, 2020, at Ibadan, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, obtained various gift cards, worth the sum of USD$150 (One Hundred and Fifty United States Dollars) from one Smith Johnson, a white male American citizen, when you falsely represented to him that you are a white female American by name Angelina James, that you are in love with him and wanted to marry him, which representations you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence.”

He pleaded guilty to the offence following which the judge pronounced him guilty as charged and sentenced him to six months imprisonment with effect from his June 30, 2020 date of arrest.

Apart from his prison term, he would restitute his victim, the sum of $150 USD (One Hundred and Fifty United States of American Dollars) and forfeit his iPhone X Max, Itel mobile phones and HP laptop computer to the federal government.

Similarly, Justice Patricia Ajoku of the Federal High Court, Ibadan, on Wednesday, October 14, sentenced one Olanrewaju Isaac Olatunji (a.k.a. Mia Cruz) to one year imprisonment for fraud. He was prosecuted by the Ibadan Zonal Office of the Commission on amended one-count charge of criminal impersonation.

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The charge read: “That you Olanrewaju Isaac Olatunji (a.k.a. Mia Cruz) sometime in May 2019 at Ibadan within the jurisdiction of this honourable court with intent to defraud, knowingly impersonated one Mia Cruz, a white female, when you falsely represented yourself to Abigail Mccaroll, in order to gain advantage for yourself, contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (ii) of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention Etc) Act, 2015, and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) of the same Act.”

He pleaded guilty to the charge upon which prosecution counsel, Mabas Mabur asked the court to sentence and convict him accordingly.

The judge sentenced him to one year imprisonment with effect from February 13, 2020, day of his arrest. His is also to restitute the sum of $1600 (One Thousand Six Hundred United States Dollars) to his victim through the EFCC, and forfeit his Honda Crosstour and other items recovered from him to the federal government.

Meanwhile, the Ibadan Zonal Office of the Commission also yesterday, arraigned the trio of Adedapo Olayiwola, Adebola Aderonke Adesina and her company, Kestrel Travels and Tour Limited, before Justice Sherifat Adeyemi.

Olayiwola is being prosecuted on a five-count charge of obtaining money by false pretence, contrary to Section 1 (2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

He is alleged to have fraudulently obtained over N4 million (Four Million Naira) from different victims on the pretence that he has plots of land to sell to them.

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However, the victims, with time, discovered that the said plots of land did not belong to him.

“That you Olayiwola Adedapo sometime in 2016, in Ibadan within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud obtained the sum of N1,400,000 (One Million Four Hundred Thousand Naira) from one Monsuru Watiu Adekunle under the pretext that it is the purchase price for two acres of land, situated at Oyigun Village, Akinyele, Ibadan which you claimed belong to you, which representations you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, upon which prosecution counsel, Murtala Usman asked the court for a commencement date of trial and for him to be remanded in prison custody.

Justice Adeyemi admitted Olayiwola to bail in the sum of N5million and two sureties in like sum. The sureties are to provide a valid means of identification, verified by the EFCC. He was given seven days to comply with the bail conditions or be returned to EFCC’s custody. The case was adjourned till December 2, 2020.

Adesina, on her part, was arraigned alongside her company on one-count charge of stealing, contrary to Section 390 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap 38, Laws of Oyo State, 2000.

She was alleged to have fraudulently obtained the sum of N2,400,000 (Two Million, Four Hundred Thousand Naira) from one Adeniyi Taiwo Dauda through her company on the pretence that she could help him procure visas for some of his clients. She, however, failed to deliver on her promise and refused to refund the money to her victim.

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The charge read, “That you, Adesina Adebola Aderonke and Kestrel Travels and Tours Limited sometime in February, 2019 at Ibadan, within the Ibadan Judicial Division of this honourable court, did commit an illegal act, to wit: stealing of the sum of N2,400,000.00 (Two Million and Four Hundred Thousand Naira) only, property of Adeniyi Taiwo Dauda.”

She pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, prompting prosecution counsel, Murtala Usman to ask the court for a commencement date of trial and for the defendant to be remanded in prison custody.

The court ordered that she be remanded in EFCC’s custody, pending an application for her bail and adjourned the matter till October 20, 2020 for hearing.

 

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Crime & Court

Court Jails Five Internet Fraudsters in Abeokuta

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibadan Zonal Office, on Thursday secured the conviction of five internet fraudsters in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.


The convicts are, Babalola Kehinde Omogbolohan; Adekoya Abayomi Peter; Stephen Ogbebor Damilare; Opeogun Temitope Felix and Sodiq Sanni (a.k.a Alan Anderson).

Having pleaded guilty to amended one-count charge of fraudulent impersonation, Justice Ibrahim Watilat of the Federal High Court, Abeokuta Division convicted and sentenced Omogbolohan, Damilare and Felix to five months in prison each, while Peter bagged four months for the crime.

Omogbolohan and Peter were given N100,000 option of fine each, while Felix and Damilare were handed N400,000 and N300,000 option of fine respectively.

Sanni (a.k.a Alan Anderson) was prosecuted before Justice Muhammed Abubakar of the Federal High Court of the same Abeokuta Judicial Division on amended one-count charge of fraudulent impersonation and having pleaded guilty, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment without an option of fine. All the convicts are to restitute their victims the sums of money they fraudulently obtained from them and forfeit all the items recovered from them to the federal government.

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