Pretoria : 19 July 2015 – The South African Police Service (SAPS) has noted the “special investigation report” carried by the City Press, especially the implied suggestion that the police have been prioritising one company at the expense of all others in the industry.

We wish to reject these accusations from the onset as there is overwhelming evidence that the SAPS has been working very closely with many sectors of the society in our efforts to not only fight crime, but how to prevent it before it happens.

In our dealing with matters such as this one, it is important for all of us to always bear in mind that the SAPS is legally bound to prevent and combat crime and protect property, among other responsibilities.

The assistance that was being provided to the British American Tobacco (BAT) of South Africa is not new and not necessarily confined to this company alone. From time to time crime patterns emerge which then dictates that the police, as an agency mandated to enforce the law, to take extraordinary steps to bring the crime situation under control. As we have said before, almost all cigarette hijackings in our country involve the BAT products. And, be that as it may, it is not as if every cigarette truck coming out of the BAT depot is being escorted out by the SAPS, or that crime prevention is suffering elsewhere. Our decision to escort or not is always based purely on the intelligence we have at the time.

We also find the response by the BAT’s competitors rather unfair to us, primarily because we work closely with anyone and anywhere. Had these companies alerted us of their challenges, either through the umbrella body Tobacco Industry of Southern Africa or on their own, we would have been glad to meet and discuss a way forward as all of these issues are being dealt with on their own merits.

BAT is a dominant player in the cigarette manufacturing market. As a consequence, majority of the cigarette hijacking incidents involve their vehicles. Criminals involved in this crime type are hardened career criminals. They are probably out on bail or parole, so they are familiar with the criminal justice system and are not scared of police or being arrested. They are often part of sophisticated and organised syndicates who are also involved in violent crime such as hijacking cash-in-transit vehicles, ATMs bombings and bank robberies.

Partnership policing has been the hallmark of this management. Those who follow the SAPS closely would by now be aware that we have been entering into partnerships with different role players as we strive to address the crime scourge in our country. It was on the basis that we are working in partnership with South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), we have provided escorts to security companies delivering grant monies. We have partnerships with the South African Consumer Goods Council which co-ordinates collaboration of significant role players in the retail industry. It is through this partnership that we coordinated efforts to tackle the scourge of mall robberies to an extent that we can safely say we have brought the groups robbing cellular phone shops to their knees.

“We are fully aware of the economic impact of these crimes on our country and therefore, through our association with the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa and other partners, we will persevere vigorously to ensure that safety prevails in this sector,” said General Phiyega.

“One of the key pillars that the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa focuses on is logistics in the retail industry. It is through focus on the logistics pillar that we tackle the mounting crimes related to truck hijacking. These crimes that costs the economy of the country dearly. Meticulous and targeted interventions are embarked upon to counter plans developed by the criminals. This can only be achieved through partnerships,” added General Phiyega.

The SAPS also hasten to say that in fighting these crimes the SAPS has also arrested some of its own members. Therefore, we will never allow these insinuations to divert or deter us from preventing crime and bringing those that are involved in crime to justice.