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2008-12-03: Johannesburg is making progress against crime, Mayor Masondo tells diplomats

JOHANNESBURG'S Executive Mayor, Clr Amos Masondo, has given diplomats the assurance that the City is taking decisive steps to tackle the issues of crime and effective law enforcement.

Speaking at a lunch for foreign representatives in Johannesburg, Mayor Masondo said "the City continues to grapple with the issue of crime." He welcomed suggestions on how to deal with it and said "we take all concerns raised very serious and deserving of attention."

Mayor Masondo outlined the recent steps taken by the City to improve its ability to deal with crime. It includes:

Securing unsafe areas by designing and implementing a lighting master plan for the City and transport nodes.
Increasing the number of Closed Circuit Television monitors in the Inner City.
Strengthening the City's ability to enforce by-laws and looking after seemingly minor issues such as the cutting of overgrown grass and fencing of areas that are considered unsafe.
Reducing the levels of priority crimes including those that adversely affect business and tourism.
Stepping up crime prevention efforts with special attention to the sale of alcohol, drug manufacturing and distribution and firearm control.
Increasing the visibility of JMPD officers and improving response times.
Putting in place Community Policing Forums to reinforce other measures.
Mayor Masondo said the City will also make provision for one additional vehicle for every three officers.  The JMPD will employ a further 1160 officers from July 2008/2009 and by the year 2010 the total figure would have increased to 4 000 officers.

Referring to incidents earlier in the year in which foreign nationals were attacked by local residents Mayor Masondo again conveyed his "unreserved apology" to diplomatic representatives. "The attacks on foreign nationals make us bow our heads in shame. This is a shame not only to our democracy in South Africa but indeed to the whole of Africa," he said.

Johannesburg has had a long history of peaceful co-existence between South Africans and foreign nationals. "For years, we have stayed, worked,
played and worshipped together.  Ours has been and will continue to be an inclusive country," said Mayor Masondo.

He committed the city to work together with civil society and the diplomatic community to resolve these issues.

"In Johannesburg we continue to build an inclusive city where every person, regardless of race, creed or background should feel welcome and at home. We are committed to ensuring that all those who live within our jurisdiction and abide by the country's laws and the City's by-laws live their normal lives," he said.

The City's Help-Desk for migrants, established in April 2007, offers a wide range of services, including:

Advice on how to access appropriate government services;
Efforts to co-ordinate the City's support for migrants;
Assisting refugees with economic opportunities;
Providing information and accommodating various service providers;
Examining community networks; and
Looking at needs of asylum seekers.