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Address by Hon: Nkosinathi Nhleko at the 35th Crimestoppers International Conference Cape Town, October 15, 2014.
15 October 2014

The President of Crime Stoppers International
Board members of CSI and Conference Chair Yusuf Abramjee
Minister Fikile Mbalula, who will speak before Min Nhleko on youth/sport
The National Commissioner of SAPS
Senior police managers
All the sponsors
Ladies and gentlemen

Thank you for the opportunity to address this seminal conference which is being held in this country for the first time.

It is fitting, programme director, that we are hosting this conference in this country, a country that has moved from the brink of becoming a pariah of the world both in terms of state-sponsored crime and crime as a result of want and neglect.

The change that came with democracy in 1994 meant that all South Africans were freed. But that was the beginning of a new struggle, the struggle for safety and security in a different country where all men and women were considered equal.

South Africa joined the family of nations that bestowed dignity on all human beings. This also meant creating a unitary state where bantustans were abolished and all the reporting of crimes showed a significant increase. If one listens to some of the conversations today, we are told that the rise in crime in this country was the result of freedom. Far from it.

The achievement of freedom meant that there was an even more correct recording of crime and the statistics showed and incorporated the areas that were formally supposedly independent. Now if you look at the combined proper figures from then until today, there is a marked decline in crime in this country.

The graphs indeed show a downward trend coming from highs to lower rungs. The lower rungs are still too high. Far too many people are being murdered, sexually assaulted and beaten up. Too many companies are being fleeced by workers who have neither the conscience nor the foresight to see that stealing from their own company means that they might not have a job in future.

There are still too many government employees enriching themselves instead of delivering the services they are required to deliver to the populace.

Our fight against crime and corruption continues. We have themed the fight against crime for this administration as: Building a united front against crime and corruption. This united front includes a lot of players and stakeholders.

Which is why this conference is critical. It seeks to involve as many citizens as possible in the fight against crime and corruption. The history of Crimestoppers and what they have achieved across the world is further proof, and buttresses our point that fighting crime is not only a police matter but a community matter that calls for all of us to act responsibly.

The sudden display of wealth by someone who is not working does not go unnoticed by the community. The question is: Are there responsible people who stand up, question this and report to the authorities this anomaly?

Communities know which houses has car thieves or sells drugs and other illegal substances. People know exactly where to buy cheap parts from chop chop operations and because they think they are benefitting, they turn a blind eye.

There is no crime that the community does not have an inkling of who is behind it. But the rate of reporting is low. As police authorities, we need to ask ourselves: Are we doing enough to shield those who want to report crime? Many a times, we hear people saying they are scared of reporting because the police will inform the criminals.

Are we as police authorities doing enough to create other platforms for reporting crimes? Are we using the gift of technology – the whataspps, bbm, instagrams and other platforms to open channels for people to be able to report crime?

Sam Maquade says Technology, may be variously conceptualized, categorized and defined; is ubiquitous and serves seemingly infinite purposes; and evolves in its design, engineering, materials, components, manufacturing processes, adoption, implementation, systems integration and diffusion. Coupled with science, technology can accommodate human preferences and enable societal functions in astounding ways and may result in being used for good or evil as determined by how they are used in relation to social norms, ethics and laws.

The auditing firm, Accenture found in a study in 2012 that citizens in general believe that police should open up more to digital tools to enable them to fight crime. “Citizens have made it clear that they want to support police in fighting and preventing crime, but that they need more information from police to do so. Digital tools should play an important role in communicating with citizens who want to support police to fight crime, but do not feel adequately informed of police activities. By adopting new digital technologies, police can create new communication channels to engage citizens and gather leads to support their investigations”.

Beyond technology, in rural areas, we need to revive the traditional authorities and systems to help us fight crime. As police authorities, we need to reconnect with these structures and pay due deference to be able to achieve what we need.

We need to give real meaning to the pillar in the National Development Plan that calls for “mobilising a wider range of state and non-state capacities and resources at all levels and active citizen involvement and co-responsibility”.

Further, the NDP says:

“Law enforcement provides institutional mandate required to improve safety. However, it does not, and cannot provide a total response. Communities need to be mobilised to play an active role in community safety. The private sector plays an important role, and already supports local initiatives”.

This is the background of the work that is being done here. I would like to salute all the men and women who have taken up the cudgels and are part of this community involvement in fighting crime and corruption. It may be through crime stoppers or other mechanisms. But the important part is that they have become part of the solution. They do not just complain. They see the role of all who believe in the future.

Keep up the good work and make the world a safer place for our entire human race – to quote Michael Jackson.

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