South Africa needs proactive crime fighting interventions to complement law enforcement agencies in their fight against scourge of crime in SA, says former police commissioner and CEO of the Safer South Africa Foundation, Riah Phiyega.
Phiyega made a presentation on the foundation’s work on Monday at the Police, Prisons Civil Rights Union’s (Popcru) 10th National Conference in Durban.
She said South Africans had to realise that fighting crime starts at the most basic level - in the home - before it becomes a community and a police responsibility.
“Crime in this country needs a holistic approach. When you look at crime, you will see that there are proactive and reactive crime interventions, and the reactive one which involves the police which is also needed. The reactive crime fighting and its whole architecture is geared towards how we structure our resources including the courts, traffic and correctional services. Crime must first be committed for the system to react.
“It is a very necessary intervention, however, if we see how it is being dealt with, and what is thrown into the system, then we must realise that we need more proactive ways to prevent crime from happening, which is why our work as a foundation is important,” she said.
Phiyega said that with the current crime levels, there was a greater need to work with communities to help them realise that they too were responsible to fight the scourge of crime at the basic level, and for children to be given the right tools to understand the dangers and pitfalls of crime.
“We need to realise that we as communities and as parents are responsible for fighting crime. So yes, fighting crime starts with me and you. We can't cower in the face of crime and hope that the police will take care of it. We must help the police and other structures fight crime in our homes, communities, schools and churches,” she said.
“While the police, the justice system and other crime fighting units are there to combat and fight crime at the reactive level, we need to be proactive about fighting crime in order to make a greater impact. Our work as a foundation is based on that premise of finding proactive ways to help fight crime - this is by impacting on the young people and young adults through school and community campaigns,” Phiyega told The Star on the sidelines of the Popcru conference.
She said through a range of interventions, programs and campaigns in schools, and communities, the foundation positively impacted the lives of young people.
“I get a lot of positive feedback from young people who tell us if they had realised early in their lives the pitfalls of crime, they would have turned out differently. No child is born a criminal, but due to circumstances, our children find themselves in crime. This is why we see our work as very important as it is about changing the mind, and impacting these young people positively before it is too late,” she said.