Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela has been announced as Gauteng’s new top cop. Mawela takes over as the province’s provincial commissioner after Lieutenant-General Deliwe De Lange resigned late last year following allegations of corruption.

His appointment was announced by Police Minister Bheki Cele and the national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole at the Mamelodi police station, east of Pretoria, on Wednesday.

A tough task ahead for Mawela; his position comes with ensuring safer communities in a province with the highest crime rate in the country.

Mawela, a career police officer, has been in the police service for 35 years and has occupied a number of senior positions since 2004. He was a divisional commissioner of operational response services, which comprises of specialised units in the police service.

Mawela has promised the people of Gauteng to be a humble servant. “I am always an open minded person forever welcome your ideas that will take us to better heights. Therefore, on the spirit of community policing, I call upon all the people of Gauteng to tell them how you want me to police you. To the people of Gauteng I promise to be a humble servant, unconditionally so. I urge and call upon all of you to work with us as law enforcement agencies.”

The re-organisation of police services in the province was also announced. This entails moving resources from high level to police stations. Major generals have been deployed to serve as station commanders at key police key police stations in an around Gauteng. National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole says the plan is to increase the number of police officers in the province.

“We are moving resources from high level to level of police stations because that is where crime is taking place. We are therefore reviewing the plan personnel plan Gauteng so that annually we increase the strength and bring it closer and closer to ratio so that it can be reasonable. And we are taking it down to stations where we are now trying to update the ratio from the stations going upwards.”

50% of crimes in South Africa are committed in Gauteng. Police Minister Bheki Cele says fighting crime in Gauteng needs to be tackled through a national approach as it is key to reducing crime in South Africa.

“Gauteng province has and will always continue to be one of our priorities, fighting and to reduce crime in the republic of South Africa. Hence the provincial in particular could not be allowed to stay long without a permanent provincial commissioner.”

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has urged the new team to prioritise the concerns of Gauteng citizens.

“As we speak, crime is the number one problem of the people of this province. It has bypassed jobs as the number one top concern of the people of Gauteng. Almost everyone is affected by crime in this province.”

Mawela will be assisted by eight deputy provincial commissioners who will oversee eight districts in the province.