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‘Crime conference failed to address community needs’

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One community anti-crime activist has criticized an international crime conference held in Cape Town this week. The 35th annual International Crime Stoppers Conference concluded at the CTICC on Wednesday night, and was the first crime conference of this magnitude held on African soil. But crime fighter Hanif Loonat said he was disillusioned by the lack of scope on crimes affecting the impoverished and marginalized sections of South African society. Much of the focus of the conference centered around international issues, ranging from cybercrime, animal cruelty and abuse and fraud amongst others.

“I feel that those don’t really affect our communities. If you look at the South African scenario, 70% of crimes are perpetrated by people from the poor, and are affecting the people from the poorest of the poor,” he explained.

He stressed that this view was not aimed at showing disregarded for other large scale crimes, but rather to raise concern over why crimes related to the poor were not addressed at greater length. He said the onus was on local representatives to speak on issues affect them as ‘Africans’, and not on those impacting “Europeans, Americans or Brazilians”.

“We should be focusing on issues that affect our people. We lose thousands of our youth to gangsterism and avoidable shootings. Why don’t we discuss that?” he questioned.

During the conference, Major-General Jeremy Veary of the police’s Operation Combat unit briefly addressed the conference on the city’s anti-gang strategy. However, Loonat was skeptical as to whether any viable solutions could actually be brought forward to address the issue. Furthermore, he was critical of the perceived lack of community participation in this regard.

“I believe with community participation, SAPS can resolve the crimes that affect our people, particularly in the Cape Flats and the townships,” he said

But conference organizer, Yusuf Abramjee, the head of Crimeline, disagreed with the criticism, saying that a large segment of the conference focused on local crime matters.

“Because it’s an international crime conference, we needed to strike a balance as there is an array of various crimes. But we had very detailed reports on gang crime by two experts including Major General Veary, and on the sidelines of the conference, there was a lot that was discussed.”

One of the major contributing factors blamed for the escalating crime in the Western Cape, has been the use and abuse of drugs. Loonat estimated that 75% of crimes experienced in the province were in some way motivated by drug use.

He also gave his backing for the use of CCTV cameras as a solution to crime in the region.

“I’ve always said put up CCTV cameras, because it is one way of combating crime,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)


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