/ 25 April 2005

Petty criminals to clean buildings, cut lawns

People arrested for petty crimes in the Vaal area will in future be punished with menial tasks such as sweeping streets, picking weeds and mowing lawns, police said on Monday.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Maria Mazibuko said the aim of the project, launched in Vanderbijlpark on Monday, is to clean up the area.

”In future, those found guilty of committing petty crimes like urinating in public, loitering, consuming liquor in public, public drunkenness, boarding a train without a ticket and crossing a railway line will have to do community service instead of paying an admission-of-guilt fine,” she said.

”Offenders will have to do services such as cleaning police stations and government buildings, cutting lawns at parks and pulling out weeds.”

The project is a joint initiative between the police, the Department of Justice, Metrorail, local government, the Vanderbijlpark Chamber of Business and the Rotary Club.

”We have decided take another angle in respect of petty crimes,” Mazibuko said. ”These offences are being committed in the community, so the payback should rather go to the community.”

Mazibuko said the Vaal area is one of the first in Gauteng to launch a scheme of this sort.

She said the police will make a normal arrest and offenders will then be taken to court, where they will be given a community-service sentence.

Offender will be placed under the supervision of a local government employee while completing their punishment.

Offenders will have to fill in an indemnity form agreeing to the community service.

”If they choose not to do this, they will be taken back to court,” Mazibuko said. — Sapa