ALCOHOL abuse, mass operation of unregulated spaza shops and poor roads are the reason some of Nelson Mandela Bay suburbs have high crime rates, as seen from the recently revealed statistics of the last financial year, new Eastern Cape Commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga told the portfolio committee on police at the New Brighton police station last Thursday.
Led by chairperson Francois Beukman, the portfolio committee, with an oversight role on the state of policing in South African metros, heard that armed robbery and murder were high in the statistics because there were about 118 taverns in the cluster under the New Brighton police precinct alone.
â€œAlcohol abuse and unregulated spaza shops with no proper closing time are the reason there is so much crime in the area.
â€œBut the multidisciplinary approach we are using, including other government departments like Social Development (through awareness programmes), as well as an effective Community Police Forum, are assisting in in arresting the situation,â€? said Ntshinga.
Ntshinga added that their Operation Lockdown had also been effective in reducing crime in the Northern Areas as a result of police visibility, and the arrest and conviction rates.
The committee also took a special view on the operations of other safety-oriented entities, including the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) in Port Elizabeth and other specialised units because, according to Beukman, â€œThe industry is huge, employing a large number of people in Mandela Bay, East London and Mthatha and cannot be allowed to operate without proper registration and regulation.â€?
He said, â€œWe identified challenges and realised a need for a better investigative approach as we canâ€™t do without investigating their firearm training and legislation.
â€œWe need to clean the industry through regulation and vetting of its employees.
â€œIn the end, we need legitimate people to have a better technological training for better performance.â€?
Beukman, who was pleased with the strategies used under Ntshingaâ€™s management, called for better cooperation among the private security industry, the South African Police Services (SAPS) and other government law enforcement agencies to strengthen community safety.
He said Nelson Mandela Bay residents and the Eastern Cape deserved a coordinated effort to provide safety services, especially given that all forms of crime had increased in this area.
â€œOur efforts should impact genuinely on ordinary people and should not be the preserve of those who have access to resources.
â€œA coordinated approach that will impact on crime in the area and also deliver on the broader government objective of safe communities is required,â€? Beukman said.
The committee also visited the Terrestrial Trunk Radio project at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University yesterday and will visit the Kwazakhele police station and â€œmake a surprise visitâ€? to one other police station today before going back to report to parliament.