'Bring back soldier to the borders'

BIG MISTAKE: Mpumalanga MEC for safety and security Siphosezwe Masango (in black suit) and his departmental officials walk in to the hall to meet reporters for the release of crime statistics in the province. Pic. Alfred Moselakgomo. 30/07/08. © Sowetan.
BIG MISTAKE: Mpumalanga MEC for safety and security Siphosezwe Masango (in black suit) and his departmental officials walk in to the hall to meet reporters for the release of crime statistics in the province. Pic. Alfred Moselakgomo. 30/07/08. © Sowetan.

Alfred Moselakgomo

The MEC for safety and security in Mpumalanga has again called for the deployment of soldiers on the country's borders, saying their absence has weakened the battle against trans-national crime.

Siphosezwe Masango was releasing crime statistics in Nelspruit when he lambasted the cabinet's decision to remove soldiers from the borders.

He said business burglaries had dramatically increased by 20 percent, while stock theft had increased by 11 percent.

"Our open borders may have influenced the increase in property crime since goods can be smuggled through the illegal entrances that were shown to me when I was there," he said.

"Removing the soldiers was a big mistake."

During his budget speech earlier this year Masango had said the withdrawal of the SANDF had weakened the battle against large-scale crime.

It had been one of the main pillars of the national crime prevention strategy.

Masango said four out of six categories of robbery with aggravating circumstances and truck hijacking had increased by 58 percent, house robbery by 54 percent, business robbery by 45 and hijacking by 11 percent.

"But the police must be commended for having managed to decrease cash-in-transit heists by 45 percent and bank robberies by 17 percent in the province," Masango said.

He said there had been a decrease of 11 percent in cases of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

"Though there is a 15 percent decrease in drug-related crimes, there is an increase of 49 percent in cases of drunken driving," he said.

The MEC said he was concerned by his department's inability to meet its target in the murder category for the period under review since there had been a reduction of only 4 percent.

A total of 49 362 contact crime cases were reported during 2006-07 and more than 44 824 cases reported this financial year.

"This represents an overall decrease of 10 percent, but the number of cases reported is still high."

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