Collective efforts can control crime levels

Dealing decisively with crime is “critical to the social fibre of our communities and economy,” stressed Gauteng Premier David Makhura in his state of the province address on Monday. “Our aim is to build safer communities, but we will need to intensify our common efforts to bring crime under control.”  

Makhura said that among the important interventions in this regard are improving sector policing, increasing police visibility and ensuring quicker response times. He also said the province is building working relations across the criminal justice cluster.

“I am deeply concerned that the fight against crime is undermined by in-fighting and conflict among the top echelons of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in our province,” he said. “Our concerns have been brought to the attention of the national minister of police and the national commissioner. We hope these concerns will be speedily addressed so that police leaders can focus on their job — keeping our communities safe. 

“As part of improving civilian oversight of policing, by April 2015 we will appoint the head of the civilian secretariat in Gauteng and ensure that the secretariat is effectively capacitated,” he said. “We will continue to strengthen community-police relations and build a strong movement against crime.

“Drug and alcohol abuse remains a major problem. Nyaope, in particular, is ravaging our townships and tearing families apart.”

Makhura said the province has designed a prototype treatment centre, which will serve as a one-stop centre to provide integrated and comprehensive treatment of substance abuse. In addition to inpatient and outpatient treatment, the centre will provide skills development and serve as a halfway house to ease addicts’ integration back into society. Building of the first centre is to commence in 2016, and the intention is to have centres in each of the province’s five regions.

Eradicating gender-based violence was also mentioned. Makhura said that in the year ahead the province intends to actively mobilise communities, join hands with civil society organisations and to work with men in particular.

“We will build on work to date to improve forensics capacity in the province, including the training of forensic social workers, to improve conviction rates,” said Makhura. “We will expand access to victim support services and places of refuge for victims of abuse. Ikhaya Lethemba will continue to provide support to victims, and assist them in bringing perpetrators to book.”

Makhura commended civil society organisations such as the South African Banking Risk Information Centre and Business against Crime for working in partnership with the government. “We also commend those honest and hard-working men and women in uniform who daily put their lives on the line to keep us safe in our homes and in our communities.”