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STATE OF THE PROVINCES: GAUTENG

Billions of rands, CCTVs, drones, helicopters… inside Panyaza Lesufi’s grand plan to tackle crime in Gauteng

Billions of rands, CCTVs, drones, helicopters… inside Panyaza Lesufi’s grand plan to tackle crime in Gauteng
Premier Panyaza Lesufi at the 2023 State of the Province Address at the Johannesburg City Hall on 20 February 2023. (Photo: Gauteng Provincial Government)

In his maiden State of the Province Address on Monday evening, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi outlined ambitious plans for how the province aimed to tackle crime.

Four months into the job, Premier Panyaza Lesufi used his inaugural State of the Province Address, delivered at the Johannesburg City Hall on Monday evening, to acknowledge and provide solutions to one of the province’s thorniest issues — crime.

Last year, Gauteng recorded the second-highest number of multiple murders in South Africa, with other crimes also on the rise.

Early in his address, Lesufi said: “Today, let’s openly admit, our province is a home of heartless and merciless criminals. They do as they wish. If this situation is left unattended it will be the end of all of us.”

‘Talk less, do more’

Lesufi said he wished he did not have to deliver the address as residents had lost confidence in the provincial government.

“They think we talk too much and do less. My preference would have been to take you to different sites of Gauteng to showcase the work we have done. Let me assure you, we will talk less and do more.

“So the issue of fighting crime should be our apex priority. We should unleash all our resources at our disposal to tackle crime. To this end, we are increasing our budget for fighting crime from R750-million to multibillion[s] in the next three years.”

Although the plans fortified many of the promises made by Lesufi’s predecessor David Makhura, details on where the funds would come from were scant.

Lesufi announced the following measures to tackle the scourge of crime:

  • “Starting from the 1st of April 2023, we will start to connect suburbs, townships, business districts, schools and other public places with high-tech, face and car recognition CCTVs.
  • “We will arm our residents with e-Panic buttons that will be linked to our law enforcement agencies, CCTVs and our new state-of-the-art Integrated Command Centre.
  • “We will unveil two new helicopters at the beginning of the next financial year and add four additional helicopters within the 2023/2024 budget cycle. The private security industry has pledged to add theirs as well to the pool of helicopters that will patrol our skies.
  • “To ensure that our police are not sacrificial lambs in the battles with criminals, we are at an advanced stage to procure 180 state-of-the-art drones that will infiltrate areas that are difficult to patrol and police. These drones are equipped with technology that can capture the direction of a bullet and where they come from.
  • “We have procured 400 new police cars so that from the 1st of May, every ward in our communities will have a 24-hour patrol car equipped with proper gadgets.
  • “6,000 young men and women have been recruited to monitor and police Gauteng 24/7 — they will invade our streets from the 1st of May 2023.
  • “Almost 10,000 private security companies have agreed to combine their resources with ours under a joint command structure so that we can fight crime together in our province.”

Lesufi acknowledged that to bring his plans to life three areas of the province’s legislation needed to be revamped:

  • The registration of cars, because cars were a common denominator in violent crimes; either stolen or getaway vehicles;
  • The elimination of illegal guns; and
  • The need for the province to use less cash in business transactions.

On illegal guns, Lesufi announced the province had collaborated with the private security industry and found a way to locate the guns anywhere in the country.

“Those with illegal guns are now playing god. They decide who lives and who dies. Together with the private security industry, we have found a solution that will assist in tracking stolen guns and locate them wherever they are in our country. We will firstly migrate our law enforcement agencies’ guns in this system, then members of the public.”

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The premier also revealed that the province’s current number plate system had been running out of numerals and letters. He said they would capitalise on this crisis by introducing hard-to-copy and tamper-proofed number plates.

A Government Gazette was released on 17 February for consultation and comments on new security features. This new system, according to Lesufi, would also assist in managing the abuse of temporary number plates.

“We call upon SADC to create a new database of all vehicles within the region so that we can have a common verification platform.

“We have also issued strict instructions to our law enforcement agencies to pull off those who continue to drive cars without number plates or fraudulent temporary permits. The abuse of fake blue lights is on the increase. A special unit to eliminate this phenomenon is being assembled.” DM

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