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Defiant Mbalula tells cops to 'squeeze' criminals & fight fire with fire

Fikile Mbalula addressed the final day of police union Popcru’s central executive committee meeting in Irene, Pretoria, on Sunday.

FILE: Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula addresses law enforcement members in Vanderbijl Park. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has again urged officers to "fight fire with fire" when tackling crime.

Mbalula addressed the final day of police union Popcru’s central executive committee meeting in Irene, Pretoria, on Sunday.

He says that criminals have become brazenly arrogant in their illegal behaviour.

“It cannot happen in our country that thugs and criminals do as they please. You look at social media, they are playing with money. They are rampant and arrogant. We must squeeze them. We must squeeze them and let them know that they’ll never play in any party with filthy, stolen money.”

He also urged officers to focus on tackling crime.

“SAPS management must not find itself deeply involved in lobbying and campaigns for certain politicians to be Minister of Police against the other. Comrades, such behaviour is a root to a Gestapo and only creates intransigence and unlawful political conduct.”

Last month, Mbalula came under fire for using vulgar language and inciting aggression.

But the minister defended his choice use of words to describe how police should deal with criminals.

Mbalula told the police's tactical response team to “crush balls” and make criminals drink urine.

“I didn’t talk about testicles. I said balls and then squeeze the balls. It was figurative. It doesn’t mean we must kill people, it means to make it unbearable for those who practice crime.”

He added: “If you squeeze the balls… you know you play with balls and you squeeze them. You squeeze them because you want to squeeze the balls. Now the judge can’t judge what I am saying.”

Mbalula’s recent comments comes as Eyewitness News reveals how the Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has effectively seized command and control of the police’s Crime Intelligence unit, and sidelined acting National Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba.

It emerged last month that Mbalula had issued a ministerial directive to the unit.

Now EWN can reveal that despite Mothiba’s attempts to resist what have been described as irregular and unlawful instructions from the minister, the unit now reports directly to the police’s political head.

Meeting minutes and confidential information notes which EWN has seen reveal Mbalula:

• believes Crime Intelligence officers are illegally spying on him and carrying out a campaign to discredit him.
• has ordered several promotions of generals be rescinded, and another general’s transfer out of the unit.
• receives weekly intelligence briefings from the head of the unit.
• has been added to the police’s daily intelligence briefing mailing list.
• issues instructions directly to the head of Crime Intelligence, bypassing the acting national commissioner.

Security and police analysts, former senior police officers and Crime Intelligence insiders have told EWN that what Mbalula is doing is highly irregular and breaks down the recognised chain of command within the police.

Instead of responding to the allegations and concerns, Mbalula’s office warned EWN about possible criminal prosecution.

“The Minister of Police derives his directorial and oversight authorities from the constitution and the SAPS Act,” said Mbalula’s spokesperson Vuyo Maga.

“We would therefore like to draw your attention to laws that prevents operational issues of intelligence services of South Africa being peddled publicly.

“Such illegal information peddling as insinuated by the questions posed to the Minister of Police gives rise to illegality and prima facie suspicion that you may be in possession of illegally obtained information of which is a criminal offence.

“Therefore, Minister Mbalula will not be drawn into discussing classified information or plans with anyone who is not authorised,” he said.

POWER

Last month, the South African Police Union (Sapu) told Mbalula to stop acting like he was the national police commissioner.

They also called on him to avoid using vulgar language.

Sapu’s Oscar Skommere said: “He forgot he is the police minister and not the police commissioner. He must consider appointing a permanent person to deal with issues of operations, rather than having him on the ground all the time.”

Read more about EWN’s exclusive about Police Minister Mbalula’s move to seize control of crime intelligence unit.

Additional reporting by Barry Bateman, Mia Lindeque and Rahima Essop.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)