FNB making new crime plan
Johannesburg - First National Bank wants to go ahead with its anti-crime campaign, but wants a new focus on what can be done to resolve crime.
Paul Harris, executive chief of FNB, told Beeld on Monday afternoon that he felt as strongly about crime as ever.
The bank came under fire after it cancelled an advertising campaign, shortly after a visit to FNB by a high-powered government delegation on Friday.
Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula headed the delegation. His spokesperson, Trevor Bloem, confirmed this on Monday and said it was at FNB's invitation.
"They were the hosts. We did not ask for the meeting."
Harris said he had stopped the planned campaign because it had become clear that it would be misinterpreted. The campaign, therefore, would not have achieved its goal.
'Want to focus on the solution'
The campaign was being revised to achieve the goal of making crime the country's "number one priority".
"We want to promise our support and will help our staff and clients to become involved in initiatives to solve the problem."
"We want to focus on the solution, on what can be done. We want to channel energy from despair, to the solutions that are needed.
"What can be done? What resources are available? What kind of spirit is needed to drive the process?"
Harris spoke to Beeld to correct the impression left by Monday's front-page report, in which he was quoted as saying that "crime is not out of control and that it is not a crisis".
He viewed crime as "a major problem, which should be the country's number one priority," said Harris.
"It's a big problem facing us all and we should all tackle it head on."
"FNB would not have planned its initiative if it did not believe that crime should be accorded the highest priority," he said.
"While we feel very strongly about that, we also do not want to offend people."
Harris says he wants to do something constructive to resolve the crime problem.
Annelene Moses reports that the pro-South African website, www.realsouthafrica.co.za, has placed the text of the cancelled FNB advertisement on its site, including the letter that people would have been invited to send to President Thabo Mbeki.
Pieter Boshoff, the website's creator, urges every citizen to send a signed letter to the president, expressing their deep concern about crime.
Solidarity trade union also has started devising a website where people can add their name below an existing letter, at www.dearpresident.co.za/ (www.geagte president.co.za)
'A national crisis'
When it is in operation, people will be able to send it electronically to the office of the president.
Dirk Hermann, deputy executive chief of the union, said they were asking the president to admit that crime was a national crisis and that it should be his number one priority.
The website will form part of Solidarity's larger Stop-the-Murders campaign which focuses on giving ordinary South Africans a voice in the battle against crime.