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Communities must fight crime: Minister Nhleko

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The fight against crime is the responsibility of all South Africans it affects, Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko told Cosatu’s crime conference at the Cape Town City Hall on Tuesday. Nhleko said communities and individuals living in crime ridden areas all have a responsibility to aid authorities in uprooting crime. He also said often criminals are protected in their communities due to the monetary assistance they provide in areas where socio-economic conditions are poor.

“We are no longer a society that can protect its elderly as well as its women and children; those are the two extremes I have seen. And it makes me want to say we need to go back to basics and think about what we aren’t doing; the fight against crime is everyone’s responsibility. The fight against crime is a societal responsibility, so we need to organize ourselves effectively for a safe society for our people to live and work in,” Nhleko said.

He also said the South African Police Service is embarking on a concerted effort to engage with all societal stakeholders to take on crime in a broad offensive against criminal activity.

“We have begun engaging with various stakeholders towards building a united front against crime and corruption. [Therefore] we are stepping up our campaign to reach out to communities to converse on these questions, because [people] in our society have … become detached. For instance, if your child is not doing homework, who do you blame? Often people would blame government, saying teachers are not doing their jobs right; but instead often those same parents do not check up on their children, that is a detachment from the problem.”

In much the same way, Nhleko says communities often harbour criminals, but complain about the inefficiency of authorities to eliminate crime. He says the socio-economic conditions of South Africans living in these crime-ridden areas are dire. He says police and other agencies must be able to tackle these issues first before crime can sufficiently be eradicated.

“Yes, the police must act within the law, as in arresting criminals and so on, but at the same time there is a need for the SAPS to work with other state departments to attack the socio-economic conditions [in these areas]. This is because if you don’t [tackle it] these socio-economic conditions will always produce criminality,” Nhleko explained.

“In the Western [and Eastern] Cape when there has been severe penetration of our communities by drug lords [often] it is our mothers and sisters that shelter … them; why, because they buy groceries, they take children to school. And often it is these youngsters that grow up to abuse drugs.” VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)

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