Gauteng has seen the highest number of arrests in the country, but remains a “gangster’s paradise”, accounting for more than half of the country’s crime.

Police, community members and activists were honoured on Thursday for their part in the battle against crime as Crimeline celebrated its fourth birthday.

Since its inception the anonymous tip-off line has led to 1 100 arrests and nearly R40 million in seizures. The arrests include 21 of the most wanted criminals.

“Gauteng is still a gangster’s paradise,” said MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko, speaking at the Silver Star Casino in Mogale City.

During a panel discussion Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Willie Hofmeyr admitted the authorities did not have the capacity to deal with the current volume of crime.

“We need better skills and more people. We also need tougher laws on bail. If someone shot at a policeman, why should they even be considered for bail?” argued Hofmeyer.

His sentiments on resources were echoed by researcher from the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham, referring pointedly to the case of the Public Protector investigating alleged irregularities into the leasing of buildings for police, implicating national police commissioner Bheki Cele.

“At the moment the resources the public protector would need for a criminal forensic investigation – the wire taps, checking SMSes – these are all resources under the control of the person being investigated,” said Newham.

The panel included Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who nodded in agreement with Newham’s statement. She has been in the spotlight after The Star revealed a police investigation into the advocate in what is largely believed to be a smear campaign to discredit her office in the wake of allegations against senior police officials.

Former cabinet minister Jay Naidoo drew applause from the crowd during the discussion, carried live on Radio 702, when he admitted that “80 percent of the reason we’re failing to deliver is due to political interference”. He warned against police being used to put down legitimate protests by people in the country’s townships when the problem was clearly a political one. – The Star