crime fighters worried

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Opposition parties and a business organisation have poured cold water on the ANC's initiative to introduce street committees in a bid to help fight crime.

"The persistent call to establish wholesale street committees to help fight crimes presents the country with extremely frightening prospects," Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) spokesman Ben Skosana told Sowetan.

He said the committees were undesirable and the move was an unintentional invitation for widespread lawlessness and eventual anarchy.

"When political no-go areas are re-established, antagonistic party political armies are formed, lives are lost and properties get destroyed," Skosana said.

He said criminal gangs would find opportunities where committees were launched.

"We are also concerned that the committees will prove to be illegitimate crime-fighting bodies because security screening is not being done.

"Anyone is welcome to participate, even those with criminal records," he said.

Skosana said the initiative was an admission by government that the law enforcement agencies were failing to combat crime.

He said government should rather get churches and religious leaders to lead the fight to restore moral fibre in schools, communities and families.

He appealed to the government and ANC to strengthen existing law enforcement agencies.

Democratic Alliance (DA) crime spokesman Diane Kohler-Barnard said the DA encouraged public participation in recognised bodies such as community policing forums.

"But we have to ensure that these bodies are not politicised.

"We cannot have a situation where a political party appoints individuals to have power over a neighbourhood. This may well lead to vigilantism.

"There may be neighbourhoods that do not wish to participate," she said.

KwaZulu-Natal manager for Business against Crime Jody Nair said: "People should be screened before they take part in such initiatives because people cannot trust those who have been involved in crime."

Their reaction follows the launch of a 30-member street committee in Newlands East, north of Durban, at the weekend.

Speaking at the launch, ANC president Jacob Zuma said the ANC had resolved to establish the street committees to protect the people who were affected by the countrywide scourge of crime.

Zuma said the decision to establish street committees was taken at the party's national executive committee meeting at Esselen Park in Ekurhuleni in January.