Lawbreakers will face the music‚ Joburg’s top cop warns
Clean up your act or face the music.
That’s the stern warning from Johannesburg’s new top cop‚ David Tembe‚ to Johannesburg residents.
After almost seven years since he resigned as the acting chief of the Johannesburg Metro Police‚ Tembe has returned to the department and is ready to fix the decaying inner city.
On top of his "to do list" is getting rid of corruption and enforcing traffic and municipal by-laws.
"These by-laws have always been there but for some years now‚ no one made sure that they were followed. Littering‚ urinating in the streets‚ posters of abortions and people can’t even walk on the pavement it is so overcrowded in the inner city.
"Washing a car with a water pipe that is meant to extinguish fire is now a norm. What if the same building caught fire? These things need immediate attention and need to be fixed soon.
"You might think that these are small matters but I have to deal with them first before I can tackle other big issues within the city‚" said Tembe who was once known as a fiercely straight law enforcer before leaving the JMPD as acting chief officer to take up a job at the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) in 2011.
Not everyone welcomed his appointment last week.
The ANC -an opposition party in the city — threatened to challenge his appointment soon after the announcement was made. This after he jumped from the fifth most suitable candidate‚ based on council interviews held in October last year‚ to take the first spot — booting out General Eric Gela who was on top of the list.
But city mayor‚ Herman Mashaba insisted he had a wealth of experience and knowledge for the job.
Speaking to the Sunday Times at the JMPD headquarters in Martindale this week‚ Tembe didn’t want to entertain any questions regarding his appointment.
"I’d rather let politicians deal with political matters. I was appointed to come up with a strategic plan to turn the city around‚" said Tembe who instead preferred to talk about the work he has been doing since his appointment and the plans to change people’s perception of JMPD officers.
According to Tembe‚ gone are the days where JMPD officers are accused of taking bribes‚ seen in shebeens and gambling spots during working hours.
Joburgers will see more of friendlier officers who will assist a pensioner to cross the road in a busy street. If you are new in Johannesburg and need direction‚ the officers will go as far as escorting you to your destination.
They will be the first to be at an accident scene and if need be they will conduct cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). All the JMPD vehicles will have first aid kits and all of them will be trained on what to do.
But motorists‚ window washers and criminals known for petty crimes be warned‚ your days of skipping red lights ‚ pickpocketing and harassing motorists are numbered and if you resist arrest or use force on officers‚ they will respond in a proportional manner.
Tembe said he was here to lead by example as a good leader and his officers will police consistently and constitutionally.
Since he started on the job‚ his day begins as early as 6am to monitor the freeways and to check if all the officers are stationed where they are supposed to be.
Earlier this week he and Mashaba‚ together with police‚ conducted a raid in Yeoville in a bid to retrieve just under R1-billion from over 2‚000 businesses that have failed to pay for City services. During the raid 24 people were arrested for‚ among other things‚ illegally connecting electricity and water. Immigrants without the necessary documents were also arrested.
Four churches leaders in the Yeoville‚ Berea‚ Hillbrow and inner city areas also appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court this week after their church buildings were found to have also illegally connected electricity.
"It doesn’t matter whether you are a church leader or a shebeen queen. Whether you stay in Sandton or Alexandra‚ you will get the same service from JMPD. This‚ obviously working hand in hand with the community‚ the other stakeholders of the city and law enforcement agencies and emergency services."
All the municipal courts will be fully functional in two months’ time. With the help of the National Prosecuting Agency‚ the officers will know how to take statements.
"We don’t want to clog the criminal courts. It’s up to the JMPD to feed those courts with cases.
"We will arrest anyone who is caught infringing any of our by-laws. A fine will be anything between R50 to R1‚000 depending on the offence."
Tembe said some of the officers needed training as they did not know what their responsibilities were.
According to his curriculum vitae‚ his public safety career began in 1981 as a paramedic with the Johannesburg Emergency Services where he progressed as far as becoming the director in charge of the Emergency Services Academy.
He was later appointed acting chief of emergency management services where he established an urban search and rescue operation that represented South Africa during disasters in Algeria and Iran.
He holds a diploma in personnel management‚ metro policing‚ FBI law enforcement executive leadership and is also a recipient of numerous awards including for one for his innovative ideas‚ operation Nomakanjani — which was designed to clamp down on negligent and reckless driving by taxi drivers. This was later cancelled after it caused tension between the Johannesburg cops and the taxi operators.