Community involvement critical in fight against crime

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Sabrina Dean

Free State Police, Roads and Transport MEC, Butana Komphela, said the time has come for the citizens of this province to start taking responsibility for their role in preventing and fighting crime. This was during a sitting of the Free State Legislature in Ventersburg last week (25 March) where Komphela tabled his department’s R2,26-billion budget. He said: “Our communities are being ravaged by crime, especially violent crime against vulnerable groups in our society.”

He announced the first ever provincial crime prevention summit to be held on 11 and 12 April, aimed at aligning provincial efforts with the National Crime Prevention Strategy.  Komphela also said they have experienced serious challenges in establishing Community Safety Forums aimed at introducing local crime prevention strategies. He said CSFs have been formally declared a priority by national policy.  “We will therefore convene all municipalities to present the concept to them for a resolution by each council on the formal establishment and launching of the concept,” he says.

He also spoke on “farm attacks”, saying: “I need to re-emphasise again that there is no formal crime category called “farm murders”. A murder is a murder, no matter where it is committed or what the circumstances are.” Speaking on transport, Komphela said the feasibility study of the N8 rail corridor link will be completed this year. He also highlighted the Tshiame Industrial Development and the Harrismith Gateway Development which form part of the Durban- Free State- Gauteng Economic Corridor as important projects for his department.

Komphela acknowledged major challenges in meeting road needs in the Free State. He said although the department has embarked on a “concerted” effort to maintain the road network, this is not being done at an acceptable level of service. “The condition of the Free State roads has in fact deteriorated,” he said. Some of the new road projects being undertaken this year include: Rehabilitation of A57 Meadows, P56/1 Parys, R74 Harrismith-Oliviershoek, and R29/1 Deneysville-Viljoensdrift; the re-gravelling programme; flood damage programme, erection of weighbridges; pothole repair programme and the Roads Hlasela Household Development Programme.