Today’s provincial turnaround strategy (view here), aimed at combatting crime and taxi violence in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), was less about increased policing measures and more about communities having to defend for themselves against criminals.
The presentation – delivered by KZN Community Safety MEC, Bheki Ntuli – has brought into sharp question the role of SAPS in the province. According to the document, the plan is to increase community intelligence so that ‘they’ can play a significant role in liberating their townships and villages and claim back what belongs to them.
It also states that civilians should use safety protective when conducting operations and fight until the last bullet against ruthless and dangerous criminals.
While the DA welcomes any form of initiative aimed at fighting crime, today’s presentation raises several concerns – not least of which is the extent to which KZN’s people must place their own lives at risk.
The strategy was also short on new innovative ideas, refreshed effective monitoring and updated enforcement which is supposed to reduce the embarrassing crime statistics for KZN. In fact, it was like drinking flat Coca Cola on a hot day – a complete let-down with nothing to indicate a major shift in crime levels in KZN. In short, it was the same old story, told on a different day.
Then there is the obvious issue of more details as to how the strategy will be executed and delivered. Right now this is just a plan and the MEC and his Department will need to include deliverables in order to be taken seriously. The promises come against the backdrop of the Inanda and Umlazi SAPS having been ranked the worst two stations for the last seven years when it comes to rape.
This while KZN still has police stations that do not have victim-friendly rooms to attend to victims of abuse.
The DA has, for many years, been calling on KZN’s various Community Safety MECs and the Department to implement the following in a bid to strengthen crime-fighting in the province;
- Additional warm bodies;
- Visible policing;
- Compulsory training on domestic violence for every officer;
- Updated and additional tools/vehicles/bulletproof vests/firearms;
- Specialised units;
- Well-trained detectives with additional workforce added to this Department and;
- Decent victim-friendly rooms
The DA will be monitoring this plan closely in a bid to ensure that it is not just more talk. The people of KZN have a right to live in a crime free province.