BOOTS ON THE GROUND
Mayday, Mayday — 3,000 new crime fighters to hit the streets of Gauteng
Three thousand newly recruited ‘crime prevention wardens’ are set to ‘invade Gauteng wards as force multipliers in the fight against crime and lawlessness’ as of Monday 1 May 2023.
In his first State of the Province Address, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi sent out a Mayday signal, saying that the province was “a home of heartless and merciless criminals who do as they wish” and that “if this situation is left unattended it will be the end of all of us.”
Lesufi committed to:
- Increasing Gauteng’s budget for fighting crime from R750-million to a multi-billion budget in the next three years;
- Connecting the province with high-tech, face and car recognition CCTVs;
- Arming residents with e-panic buttons linked to law enforcement agencies; and
- Training 6,000 crime prevention wardens — young men and women to monitor and police Gauteng 24 hours a day.
What are crime prevention wardens?
The Gauteng government defines crime prevention wardens as a “multiplier force” supplementing police visibility and responsiveness in communities.
Lesufi said, “The wardens are the ears and eyes of the police, but most importantly patrol every street and every ward. They have undergone various courses and modules to qualify in criminal justice system functions, understand the Constitution and are trained in managing crowds and crime situations, among other things. The wardens have received training from the three metro municipalities and other law enforcement agencies, including SAPS.”
The first batch of these wardens will be graduating on Sunday 30 April and dispatched to 361 Gauteng wards — mainly township informal settlements on Monday 1 May.
Unlike the Community Policy Forums (CPFs) which operate on a volunteer basis, wardens will be paid a salary and are armed with “registered tools” to deal with any situation.
Their duties include crime prevention, stop-and-search, arrests, attending to complaints, maintaining law and order, and traffic control.
“We are releasing this force to strengthen the work of the police and ensure our people can start to walk freely in our parks, and streets and on their way to and from work… They must not add to the statistics of those that are taking bribes and delaying when needed,” Lesufi said.
The Gauteng government’s declaration of war on crime comes against the backdrop of the province dominating the country in the number of reported serious crimes, including murder and sexual offences, in the third quarter crime statistics for the fiscal year 2022-2023.
At least 11 Gauteng districts were among the top 30 with high rates of serious crimes, according to Police Minister Bheki Cele. The 11 districts are Johannesburg Central, Kempton Park, Honeydew, Midrand, Tembisa, Randfontein, Alexandra, Brooklyn, Pretoria Central, Roodepoort and Temba.
Bar too high
Lesufi said that “five months ago we announced as part of the new vision of Gauteng to fight crime, corruption, lawlessness and vandalism in our province to launch 6,000 fit and young men and women who will be released to our communities as part of our programme of fighting crime. At some stage, we felt we have set a bar too high for our targets and needed to revise them.”
According to Lesufi, the advertisement for the crime prevention wardens attracted a lot of applicants and created several logistical issues including;
- Finding a venue to accommodate 6,000 trainees;
- Shortages and challenges around catering;
- People not going through normal recruitment processes joining the training centre; and
- Others not meeting the prerequisites.
“As a result, we couldn’t, therefore, have the 6,000 targeted and after undergoing various stages we remained with almost 4,000, those that are graduating on Sunday… However, a new recruitment process has started so as to increase the task force and meet the 6,000 target.”
Those applying for the position of crime prevention warden are required to meet the following prerequisites: matric certificate; identity document proving their local residency; verification of no criminal record or any pending criminal cases, and must be prepared to undergo physical and theory training.
Successful applicants are eligible for a R4,000 monthly stipend during their training period, which will be between three and eight months long, and a salary after graduation. DM