Gauteng community safety committee welcomes crime-fighting unit dubbed ‘AmaPanyaza’

Crime prevention wardens during a pass-out parade in Soshanguve. Picture: Supplied

Crime prevention wardens during a pass-out parade in Soshanguve. Picture: Supplied

Published May 3, 2023


Johannesburg - The newly launched Gauteng crime-fighting unit, also known as “AmaPanyaza”, has been welcomed by the provincial legislature’s portfolio committee on community safety.

The unit was launched by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi and Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko over the weekend.

Committee chairperson Bandile Masuku said the committee is pleased that the launch of this unit will see 6 000 crime prevention wardens deployed in communities, especially in townships, informal settlements and hostels, to protect residents and fight crime.

Masuku said this much-needed crime prevention intervention is anticipated to reduce crime in Gauteng that continues to rob residents of their right to freedom and peace.

In March this year, Masuku expressed concern about high crime levels in the province. This was after the release of third quarter crime statistics for the 2022/23 financial year revealed there was a 7.1% increase in crime levels, contributing to a 27.1% increase in the national crime rate.

“This government-led initiative is more like a replica of what was historically known as street committees, where community members organised themselves to provide safety and security in their neighbourhoods,” Masuku said.

He said that unlike street committees, this initiative is government-led and funded, and the committee is concerned that there seems to be an over-reliance on the government to provide peace and security in communities and that there is little being done by residents to assist the government in fighting crime.

Masuku said the committee therefore calls on residents of Gauteng to organise themselves, take part in programmes such as community policing forums, and augment the government’s efforts to effectively fight crime.

“The fight against crime in our communities can only be won if residents play a more proactive and effective role in working together with police to resolve issues of crime and create environments where everyone is and feels safe at all times,” he said.

Masuku said the committee further noted with concern some residents who, instead of welcoming and supporting the newly deployed crime prevention wardens, took to social media and started body-shaming some.

“The committee condemns this kind of behaviour as it only serves to degrade and humiliate others whose only crime is committing to serving and protecting their communities,” he said.

Masuku said community members should welcome these wardens with open arms and provide them with the necessary support in executing their responsibility of creating a safer Gauteng.

The Star