SAPS declare war on piracy

The South African Police Service (SAPS) launched an anti-piracy campaign in Johannesburg earlier today (2 December 2011) as part of its “When Duty Calls” festive season operations, saying that it is declaring war on piracy and counterfeit goods.

The campaign was launched by Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, and according to a press statement issued by the SAPS, was attended by the following notable groups and individuals:

  • Various MECs responsible for policing and other government departments;
  • Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi;
  • Senior representatives from the Department Trade and Industry, Home Affairs, SARS, and NPA;
  • Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT);
  • Recording Industry of South Africa;
  • Film and Publications Board; and
  • Various artists, most of whom are direct victims of piracy.

The campaign comes after the Creative Workers Union of South Africa urged government to act on music piracy and clamp down on the violence that has erupted because of it.

A press statement issued by the SAPS included the following transcript of Mthethwa’s speech:

We are here this morning, not only as police but supported by all our partners to make our intensions clear when it comes to anti-piracy.  We also believe that as we intensify this war on anti piracy, we have the resolve and support of many law-abiding South Africans.  Therefore this is people’s war on these criminals and history has taught us that any war that involves society, victory is certain.

We shall not allow criminals to destroy our artists’ legacies because such acts are tantamount to daylight robberies.  That is why from now on we want to clean out the streets.  Whilst we shall target those street traders, our core focus will be on the manufactures of such counterfeit goods.  As we had done with drug trafficking, unless we break the backbone of these syndicates, we shall not win this war.

To this end, we are appealing to society to work with us in this crusade.  Let us refrain from buying stolen goods.  As you may be aware we have passed the Second Hand Goods Act and this piece of legislation specifies that a person, who buys a stolen good, is as guilty as the person who sold it.  Any person who wishes to own a DVD or CD must go to a legitimate retail store and purchase it.

Gauteng is one of the provinces that is currently experiencing a challenge regarding piracy of CDs, DVDs, cigarettes and clothing.  As part of an initiative to fight crime and improve service delivery to communities, as the police leadership we will be conducting joint operations to curb the increasing volumes of piracy and counterfeit production and illegal sale of CDs, DVDs, cigarettes and clothing across the country.

We also want to emphasize that police operations around this challenge have been ongoing; however, we believe that more still needs to be done.  Since 28 November this year, police in Gauteng working in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, government departments have seized R50million worth of counterfeit goods, in Quebec House, Dragon City as well as Lancet Hall.

The impact of this sort of crime is negatively affecting the economic growth of our country and we cannot allow this to happen.  Some of the goods that are illegally sent into the country are conducted by syndicates and that is why we shall also be working with our counterparts from the region and internationally do tackle this challenge.   That is why we have focussed Intelligence-driven operations to identified areas.

In the main, the very same illegal transactions including non-compliance, payment of revenue, taxes to contribute to the mushrooming and continuation of such practices.   Due to the harmful nature of the DVD contents minors as well as youth are polarised psychologically.  These actions have therefore put into sharp focus government’s resolve to consolidate immigration regulations, to counter proliferation of movement.

We further note that counterfeit and illegally imported goods are affecting business confidence because these scrupulous traders are not paying taxes. To reduce the trading of counterfeit goods/clothing/cigarettes/DVDs/CDs in terms of the Counterfeit Goods Act, Copyright Act, Films and Publications Board Act and the Customs and Excise Act, we have adopted an integrated and sustainable partnership with all these role-players.

Our intention is uncompromising: we will arrest perpetrators who deal with counterfeit and illegally imported goods but equally important, to ensure that they get the severest punishment.  We also want to increase the confiscation of counterfeit and illegally imported goods in terms of value and quantity.  In fact buying illegal goods is tantamount to murder and that is the message we need to send out there to these scoundrels.

Together, we can do more to fight piracy.

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SAPS declare war on piracy