Durban — As the murders of Kiernan ‘AKA’ Forbes and Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane continue to weigh heavily on the minds of many, especially with them being killed on Durban’s Florida Road, eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda focused on building safer communities in his State of the City Address on Wednesday.
Kaunda said: “... crime continues to be a tightening noose around our neck as the city. It is of great concern that to date we account for 50% of criminal activities in the province. This state of affairs poses a serious threat to tourism which is our gold.”
He said that meant they needed to rethink the way they used their resources in the fight against crime.
Kaunda highlighted high-profile murders including that of AKA and said these had an adverse impact on the city’s reputation.
“We are also concerned about the increase in mass murders in areas such as Mariannhill, Clermont, Folweni, Verulam, Inanda and KwaMashu. In Mariannhill, the city has availed land to build the new police station, SAPS and the Department of Public Works has approved the building of a fully-fledged police station,” Kaunda said.
He said that to curb the killing of amakhosi, izinduna and councillors, the eThekwini Municipality is working closely with all law enforcement agencies, led by Police Minister General Bheki Cele.
“This scourge of crime further highlights the importance of working together as government, communities, business and law enforcement agencies in reclaiming our city from criminals,” Kaunda said.
He said that part of the interventions, the municipality was putting in place to eradicate crime include:
- Recruitment of 400 metro police annually;
- Use of technology to fight crime using CCTV cameras in the central business district, rural areas and townships;
- Facial recognition cameras at entry points like toll gates ensure that police get real-time information about criminals entering or leaving the city;
- Body cameras for metro police officers;
- Training of specialised units in collaboration with SAPS such as the dog unit and public order policing; and
- Usage of drones to monitor and detect crime.
“The rampant crime in our city is also hindering the delivery of basic services in that our employees are targets for carjackings and robberies while they work on our infrastructure in various communities. This brings untold trauma to our employees and disrupts the delivery of urgent repairs and maintenance.
“We call upon communities to condemn this scourge as it delays the delivery of services,” Kaunda said.
He said they were also concerned with the ever-increasing number of homeless people who have made our streets their home. Unfortunately, among this group, we have hardened criminals who are also drug addicts and many of them have been found vandalising municipality infrastructure to satisfy their addiction.
“To make the inner city safe, the municipality has made available three shelters – one for women and two for men where hot meals are provided. This is in addition to the temporary shelters we established at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Kaunda said.
“The city has received R3.6 million from the Mayors Migration Council to profile homeless people through a new portal, including migrants in the city with the view of getting them off the street.”
“The city is going to establish a centre which will be providing counselling, hot meals, a family restoration programme and drug rehabilitation. We are also in the process of identifying more sites where they can be relocated permanently,” Kaunda explained.
He said that some of their interventions are impeded by civil society organisations who frequently take the municipality to court.
“In most cases, they claim that the municipality is abusing and harassing homeless people - ignoring the fact that we have a responsibility to enforce by-laws which preclude people living under the bridge. We have a duty to protect law-abiding citizens whose rights are also important,” Kaunda said.
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