Speech notes: SOPA debate

Speech notes by Bobby Stevenson, Shadow MEC for Safety and Security speaking on

the Debate of the State of the Province Address.

“Use technology to fight crime”

The Honourable Premier stated “We are reasonably satisfied with the

progress we are making in the fight against crime.” There are many residents in this province

who would disagree with that statement. Whatever the crime statistics might show, the level

of crime, particularly of violent crime is still far too high in this province. The procedure of only releasing crime statistics in September for the proceeding financial year means that they are out dated. What communities require is regular crime statistics.

The Western Cape government is currently introducing regulations to make provisions for

the quarterly release of crime statistics. I would suggest that this province follow suit.

Communities have the right to know as to what is happening in their neighbourhoods. If we

are going to win the fight against crime in this province, then the provincial lead department

needs to be re-energised. It needs to give visionary leadership that is required to galvanise

communities to act as a collective force to reduce crime.

Some time ago the Honourable Premier appointed the Head of the Department of Safety

and Liaison to head up a task team to fight gangsterism in Port Elizabeth. I am interested to

hear from the Premier what progress has been made by that task team. If we are to fight

crime effectively then we need to take ourselves up a notch or two and utilise technology

more effectively. This calls for effective partnerships between the department, the SAPS and


One of the most effective ways of improving the fight against crime is through the utilisation

of surveillance cameras. When I was the portfolio councillor for Safety and Security in

Nelson Mandela Bay in the 90’s when there were multi party executives, we introduced

CCTV cameras in the Govan Mbeki Avenue. This helped to reduce crime by 60% in the

CBD. I am informed that there are many surveillance cameras in Nelson Mandela Bay but

many of them are either not monitored or simply not working. MEC, your department needs

to look into this matter and to see how a partnership can be developed between the

municipality and the SAPS to ensure that these cameras are properly monitored.

Secondly, the department should lead a campaign to ensure automatic number plate

recognition cameras are erected in strategic parts of this province. There are two kinds,

static and mobile. When a crime is committed and a number plate number can be obtained,

it can be fed into the system. So as the vehicle then moves around a city or province it can

be identified and tracked.

Thirdly, mobile cameras placed on top of traffic vehicles can identify stolen vehicles, warrants

that are outstanding, wanted suspects and unlicensed vehicles. How many of these are

currently operating in the province Honourable Premier?

The Honourable Premier also spoke about the high accident rate on our roads. One of the

ways of dealing with high accident rates is to reduce the speed. For this, time over distance

cameras will be needed. If these were erected on our roads, they would automatically be

able to find motorists who exceed the speed limit. Again I ask, how many are currently

operational in our province.

I would also like to know how many of the morph0 touch finger print machines are currently

operational. When police conduct raids or random stop and searches, these machines assist

in identifying wanted criminals.

By harnessing these aspects of technology effectively, this province could make a much

greater dent on our high crime rate. They would also assist in combating gangsterism in the

Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth.

Together with more effective crime intelligence, what one actually needs is saturated and

high visibility policing in hot spot areas with continuous searches of vehicles and people.

This would ultimately curtail the movement of gangs.

I believe that the department should lead a campaign to recruit police reservists in this

province and ensure that they have all completed their fire arm competency testing. There

are many people who would like to volunteer and assist in the fight against crime and

training a police reservist will assist on this cause.

The Honourable President in his reply to the State of the Nation Address mentioned that the

two specialised units would be re-established, the one is the Narcotics Bureau and the other

is a specialised unit dealing with fire arm and violent crime. This is something that the

Democratic Alliance has been calling for ever since the former Commissioner of Police

Jackie Selebi disbanded them.

The problem of gangs and drugs are an international problem, without specialised units we

cannot combat these scourges effectively. I call on the Premier to monitor the

implementation of the specialised units and ensure that they are operational in this province

as soon as possible.

The Premier also called for the implementation of community safety forums in all our

municipalities, these are municipal wide bodies that co-ordinate all the key role players in a

municipality. Nothing is more urgent than ensuring an effective community safety forum

operates in Nelson Mandela Bay. This is a community under siege; it is living in a war zone.

Crime is out of control in this area, it needs effective, co-ordinated action to beat it. The

Department of Safety and Liaison Honourable Premier needs to rise to this challenge and

report back to this House on what steps it is taking to do so.