We need to step up drive to curb crime epidemic
The cycle of lawlessness is terrifying: murder, robbery, rape, kidnapping and hijacking, the list goes on.
Crime statistics show that, on average, there are 58 murders a day and in the time it takes to read this newspaper a woman could have been raped or a child assaulted.
Our law-abiding citizens live in fear and the visitors on whom we rely can be scared off coming here.
I share footage of real crimes on social media. These images may be shocking, but they need to be seen, and many times they are passed on.
I may be criticised but make no apology. These outrages are happening and if we are to defeat the menace, we must confront it.
One tragic incident, as 2020 dawned, highlights the huge problem that we face, and offers some clues on what we must do to overcome crime.
That is the incident at Poppy’s in Melville where revellers were seeing in the new year. A black BMW SUV with false plates drove by slowly, spraying bullets into a kerbside crowd. Two women died and other people were injured. Weeks later, despite CCTV footage showing the faces of the suspects and many witnesses, no arrests have been made.
The suggested reasons these killers remain at large are familiar: police infighting, cop corruption, community lack of involvement or a lack of proper resources.
While there is obviously excellence within the SAPS, a lot of work lies ahead to restore integrity and credibility to our law enforcement agencies.
It’s good to see Police Minister Bheki Cele being visible and often outspoken but he has many fires to fight. He cannot do it without good cops, and they need our help to out the criminals in our midst.
Ordinary people can get involved by using services such as Crime Stop (0860010111) to report criminal and criminal activity anonymously.
The Namola app, supported by Dialdirect, is free and hundreds of people are now using it to get help each week.
Another way to deal with crime is from above. Cape Town showed in the holidays the effectiveness of policing by helicopter and other countries are looking at how drones can be used to enhance safety on the ground.
Criminals engaging in the illegal economy are systematically looting the state of R100million every day.
They do so by pocketing the taxes that are needed to transform and build South Africa. Money that is supposed to be spent on education, welfare and fighting crime, for example.
I helped found Tax Justice South Africa, an NPO campaigning for tax criminals to be brought to justice and sent to jail.
In the coming period, we want to show how tax is being stolen across the economy, ranging from counterfeit clothing to illegal alcohol, cigarettes and pharmaceutical drugs.
We will seek support to ensure these people, who are crippling our country, are properly punished. We say #LockThemUp. We need special courts, even if it means sitting over weekends, to get rid of the backlogs and ensure swifter turnaround times.
The drug problem needs special focus. I have repeatedly argued that we need the special narcotic units to be re-introduced. There is a clear strategy about policing and creating safer communities. When will Cele launch the advisory committee he promised?
We need the political will to make the country safe, and we need it now. Let’s unite to see this happen, to hold police to account, support them, and play our part as active citizens.
Abramjee is an anti-crime activist. He is also head of Tax Justice SA and vice-president of Crime Stoppers International.