REMARKS BY EC PREMIER AT THE JCPS CLUSTER MEETING

Programme Director

Members of the Executive Council

DG and HODs

Provincial Commissioner

Heads of our Security Agencies

Members of the JCPS Forum

CPF Reps

Members of the media

Good afternoon colleagues.

Emandiyitsho phandle zisuka yeyokuba sisengxakini. Ezinkcukacha-manani sigqibo ziva apha azintlanga konke-konke. Let me also congratulating you MEC for changing the name of the department to be Community Safety .

If I were someone from outside government and see these stats, I would say criminals are running the show in our province. But I cannot say that, because I know the efforts of our law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime in our province. I therefore would not dare insult the dedication and commitment of members of our law enforcement agencies by accepting that criminals have an upper hand in our province.

What the stats reveal is that we have a monumental task in our hands, to fully realize our priority of creating safe communities as envisaged in the State of the Province Address. The criminal justice system must work or be seen to be working for victims of crime than being perceived as lenient towards criminals.

Government has developed many strategies to prevent and combat various forms of crime in our country. The Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy is the latest document developed by government and has six pillars which are:

· An effective criminal justice system

· Early interventions

· Victim support

· Effective and Integrated service delivery for safety, security, and violence

· Safety through environmental design and

· Active public and community participation.

This strategy is at our disposal for us to take the fight against crime to criminals. As you can see the first pillar puts the criminal justice system at the pinnacle of preventing and combating crime. We have all heard the quarter four crime stats, we all agree they do not reflect the kind of society we want to be.

Let us use the Integrated Crime and Prevention Strategy as a guide to develop a response plan to the crime stats that were shared with us here today. In doing so we must elevate the pillar of active and community participation, through affirming role of community structures in crime prevention. Our community police forums and community safety forums must be strengthened to do their work.

The crimes that make up the statistics have been committed in community settings, not by aliens, but by human beings on other human beings. So, it is communities themselves that must form an integral part of our response plan to these crime statistics, led of course by government.

We are emphasizing the word led by government on purpose, because communities have unconventional ways of dealing with crime that can be counterproductive for the cohesion we want to build in our society. Already, cohesion is broken in the villages of Ezingqolweni and Maqhashu in Cacadu District after community members took law into their own hands and meted out mob justice to seven people.

Colleagues mob justice will never be tolerated by the democratic government that is led by the ANC. We must however address the causes that lead people to unleash mob justice. One of the reasons I often hear is that people lose confidence in the criminal justice system because they report criminals and see them walking in their communities soon after their arrest.

That does not justify acts of mob justice, but it is those kinds of reasons coming from our communities that should concern this cluster. Once communities feel they are on their own, they will either surrender or defend themselves in their own unconventional ways. We must instill confidence in our people that the criminal justice system works in favor of victims of crime, not perpetrators of crime.

The fact of the matter is that our people are feeling cornered by criminals everywhere, in rural areas, in townships and suburbs. I have heard numerous cries for help from people in rural areas who are forced to sell their livestock due to theft that has turned violent in many communities.

This past weekend we laid to rest Brigadier Joe Jongile after he was senselessly gunned down inside his home in the suburb of Baysville in East London. Imagine the psychological trauma his family went through during a violent home invasion that claimed the life of a man who gave his all in our liberation struggle and in service of our democratic government.

What upsets me even more about these crime stats is that they affect the vulnerable groups of our society, women, children, and the elderly. When stats reveal the murder rate in the Eastern Cape has increased by 21.5 % in quarter 4, we must know in those victims there are women, children, and elderly. To learn that the lives of 938 citizens of our province were taken violently between January and March of 2021, by other fellow citizens is shocking and disappointing. It casts a bad light on us as fellow humans.

Xa siva inkcukacha-manani ezilumezayo ezithi udlwengulo lonyukile, funeka siyazi mhlophe kuthethwa ngokudlwengulwa koMama nabantwana abangamantombazana apho.

As we speak, Lusikisiki has been declared the rape capital of South Africa. The men of Lusikisiki should hang their heads in shame for violating senselessly the 88 victims of rape that were recorded between January and March this year, in that area. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to blame all men in Lusikisiki because had they stood up and fought the scourge of violence against women and children, the numbers would be telling the story of their positive actions, but they are not. I urge this cluster to devise solid preventative measures for rape. This is one crime that we do everything possible to prevent in our province, because for victims of rape the scars are a lifetime.

Colleagues, when we talk violent crimes, we understand that we are not dealing with upright citizens. We are dealing with vicious predators who are lurking everywhere, ready to pounce and inflict harm to other innocent people. Our response as the JCPS cluster to such predators must communicate a message of disgust for their behavior.

We have an obligation as this cluster to ease the fears of our communities, to give our people hope that they are safe, with practical response programmes to curb crime. We will only have successful impactful response programmes when we work together and pull resources in integrated fashion as various departments in this JCPS cluster. This is something we have done successfully in areas such as Sulenkama and Matatiele where we have reduced incidents of stock theft.

Even at this hour when it seems as if criminals are on top, we have the resources and capabilities to show them we are in charge. The number of men and women uniform has increased considerably in the past few years. We must increase their visibility in our communities to deter crime. We have passed many laws to protect women and children from abuse, those laws must bite. We have changed laws to make longer sentences compulsory for violent criminals, we must see the resultant effect of those laws in our crime stats.

It is this cluster that must ensure that we reduce crime levels in our province.

Masiphakamiseni isantya, kuyonakala!

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