LEVELS of crime continue to remain unacceptably high, as does South Africa’s image as a crime-riven country, and this a real worry as we settle into 2018.
Many will be returning home from their holidays and within days normality will return as they return to work and schools reopen.
We are going to need more than express a political will to create a safer South Africa. Police Minister Fikile Mbalula took some flak for taking a holiday while the police had to work. But, bear in mind he is a political head, and not an operational commander, and I have confidence he can make a difference to the police.
I hope we will see real change and action this year. There is no quick-fix to rid society of crime, but we need a strategy and implementation, especially to combat the unacceptably high levels of violent crime.
Organised crime syndicates are infiltrating our country, and they are dangerous. Just look at the kidnappings and cash-in-transit robberies… these are not planned by “ordinary” criminals, they have masterminds behind them.
In 2018 we want to see General Khehla Sitole, the new police commissioner, make his mark. He is a career policeman, with experience in operational policing and with the right resources and support he can make a difference. It is also time to review police pay structure because many ranks are hopelessly underpaid – and not having money can lead to the temptation to be corrupt.
Public confidence in the SAPS remains low, and while there are some reports of fantastic service, overall service levels remain a concern. For as long as the police do not serve their public with pride and dedication, they are not going to win any support and trust.
They need to be soft on the victims of crime and tough on criminals.
Let 2018 be the year when we work together to ensure we build safer neighbourhoods and a safer country.
In achieving this, police should embrace the use of technology such as appls, geo-positioning, facial recognition, fingerprint technology and vehicle and body cameras.
Another priority is the training of officers and ensuring they have what they need to protect themselves. We can’t have officers killed in the line of duty.
We must empower the public and one tool is the Namola crime-prevention app. Already it has seen more than 125 000 downloads, making it possible to access police help instantly from a smart device.
We must reverse the negative image of our country when it comes to crime.
When an actor tweets about being robbed in Cape Town, it is bad for us. On a recent visit to the UK I had taxi drivers ask me about crime. Their perception is it is not safe to visit our beautiful country as you might be robbed or even killed. Let’s join hands and make 2018 a year where we prioritise the fight against crime.
To this end, #MakeSASafe, a registered NPO, will identify projects in the months ahead, and all donations received will go to the fight against crime and assisting victims.
One of the first projects will be to upgrade a room at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court used by women who testify in sexual offences cases.
● Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and Namola’s Chief Ambassador. He also heads #MakeSASafe