R5 mln less to fight crimes

2017-04-21 15:38
 KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Mxolisi Kaunda with official from the Transport and  Police departments.

KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Mxolisi Kaunda with official from the Transport and Police departments. (Supplied)

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Illegal firearms, unregulated shebeens and drugs are the “axis of evil” that are the key drivers of crime in Kwa­Zulu-Natal.

This is according to KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Mxolisi Kaunda, who announced a budget cut to his department on Thursday.

Kaunda was speaking at the department’s budget vote speech at the provincial legislature offices in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday. Opposition parties, however, were not convinced, saying the budget cut of about R5,5 million may be detrimental to a province whose murder and rape figures were among the highest in the country last year.

During his speech, Kaunda said one of the problems that need to be addressed immediately are illegal firearms, which seem to be at the root of most violent crimes in the province.

In January alone, KZN police recovered 139 guns through intelligence-driven operations. He said 1 431 rounds of ammunition were seized along with the firearms. This figure is a shadow of the 3 325 firearms recovered between April and December last year.

To counter the scourge, the department will be launching a “high profile anti-illegal firearms campaign”.

The campaign will seek to mobilise communities to contribute towards the recovery of illegal firearms and share with them the dangers of having such “weapons of murder” in circulation.

Kaunda said amnesty for those returning illegal firearms will also be considered.

Speaking to The Witness on Thursday, KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas said to stop the scourge of firearms in the province, starting points would be to develop an efficient Crime Intelligence unit.

“The department also needs to do an inventory on the number of guns and ammunition missing from police stations. Another serious problem is the private security sector,” De Haas said.

“These companies have access to guns, but little is done to monitor them. KZN also has a legacy of guns going missing and guns being buried during pre-democracy struggles”.

What was most worrying for the MEC was how many young people were either victims or perpetrators of murder, attempted murder and assault in KZN.

The department has therefore opted to spend more resources as the year progresses on researching the causes of violence affecting the youth to determine means of preventing more such incidents next year.

Kaunda also spoke briefly about police service delivery, xenophobia, political conflict and safety in schools.

He announced that the budget for the 2017/2018 financial year was tabled at R204 486 000, a decrease of about R5,5 million from last year.

Democratic Alliance KZN spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison Rishigen Viranna said the lower budget to this “critical service department” shows the ANC “does not care about the safety of the people of our province”.

“It shows that despite extremely high levels of violent crime, it is not serious about tackling crime and supporting the SAPS. Meanwhile, over the Medium Term Expenditure framework the budget increase falls below inflation,” Viranna said.

“What this means is that this department is not in a position to keep up with current crime fighting efforts, let alone introduce any new measures.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Blessed Gwala said the party is not convinced that the department is fulfilling its core mandate of eradicating crime and ensuring that people live in communities that are crime-free. “For any community to make progress, be it economically or socially, safety and stability are key factors that give confidence and encourage growth,” Gwala said.

“In some ways, criminals are already one step ahead of the authorities. Simply put, the department has failed to address the root causes of crime in our province. When addressing the increase in crime all the MEC could offer us is that the department would do more.”

Gwala said there is very little tangible, specific and clear direction on the immediate implementation of strategies that would curb criminal activity.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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