13/11/2012 Durban MEC for Transport, Community Safty & Liaison Willies Mchunu and Premiar of KZN Dr Zweli Mkhize. PICTURE: SIBUSISO NDLOVU

KwaZulu-natal - A new organisation that aims to stem crime in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal was launched on Tuesday.

It is part of a new initiative to take on criminals and curb the rise of vigilantism.

The KZN Community Crime Prevention Association was hailed as a “historic step” in getting communities to work with the police.

MEC for Safety and Security Willies Mchunu said people often took the law into their own hands when dealing with suspected criminals and this initiative aimed to get them to work within the law.

“I admit that some of these [community] structures have become vigilantes who during their operations commit unlawful acts,” Mchunu said.

The association is made up 14 organisations from across KZN. Some of them have been labelled as vigilante groups because of their approach in dealing with crime suspects.

Now they have undertaken to change their tactics and have developed a constitution guiding their operations.

A memorandum of agreement guiding their commitment to a legal approach was signed yesterday by the provincial government and the 14 organisations.

Premier Zweli Mkhize called on communities to work with the police, telling the new association: “I believe that you have an important role to play, not only in terms of fighting crime but to promote the culture of… human rights in the community where we live.”

Mkhize also spoke out against drug abuse and said communities needed to teach values and morals.

The chairman of the new association, Tallman Zuma, said its members needed to “work as one” to fight crime.

Mchunu said the association would be instrumental in building an anti-crime society and strengthening community intelligence in the fight against crime.

“I believe that [such] crime-fighting structures are essential in the fight against crime.

“Crime results in the deprivation of the rights and dignity of citizens and poses a threat to their rightful participation in the reconstruction and redevelopment of this province,” he said.

“The rights and freedoms which the constitution entrenches are threatened every time a citizen becomes a victim of crime.” - Daily News