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​The provincial government is tackling safety and security this month, and has several targeted programmes on the cards.
FEBRUARY is widely regarded as the month of love; in Gauteng, however, it is known as the month of safety and security. In line with this, the Gauteng department of community safety has launched a number of initiatives to create a safer province.

MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, outlines plans for safety monthMEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, outlines plans for safety monthThe MEC for community safety, Faith Mazibuko, officially launched the month on 3 February at the Pyramid Conference Centre in Selby, alongside representatives from law enforcement agencies such as the Johannesburg metro police department and the South African Police Service, among others.

“It has become a norm that the month of February is dedicated to the efforts of heightening awareness in our communities and where we seek to intensify our efforts in maintaining a high level of safety in Gauteng,” she said in welcome.

This year heralded a new approach, with the department engaging with a variety of stakeholders to ascertain which areas needed the most attention. These stakeholders included faith-based organisations, the taxi industry, women’s organisations and organisations for people with disabilities.

“The communities are equally concerned about the levels of crime, especially gender-based violence, which is showing an increase, and they are taking charge of their own communities,” she said.

Six initiatives were outlined for implementation during this year’s safety and security month: road safety for visually impaired people; a drug awareness campaign in Hammanskraal; an imbizo with liquor traders; the launch of the Know Your Neighbourhood campaign; law enforcement at taxi ranks; and a crime perception session.

Issues of road safety as they relate to visually impaired people will be explored in a workshop at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown. “They will advise us on how to teach our communities to treat people with disabilities and what their needs are on our roads,” Mazibuko said.

Hammanskraal, in northern Gauteng, has a high number of drug users, which led to Mazibuko’s department to open a rehabilitation centre there recently. Over 100 youths from Hammanskraal volunteered to go into rehabilitation, and 16 of the 102 completed the course. In line with this positive development, Mazibuko used this safety month launch as a platform to announce local drug committees that would help mobilise whole communities in the fight against drug abuse.

for the blindIssues of road safety will be tackledLiquor traders will be engaged with at an imbizo where they will be called on to abide by trading hours and refrain from playing loud music during school hours. “We want to work very closely with liquor traders to sensitise communities that alcohol abuse is not ‘cool’, especially to young people.”

Seven Know Your Neighbourhood campaigns have already been launched by the department in Bedfordview, Booysens and Kokosi in Carletonville, among others, and have proven to be very successful. “The shift from reliance on high walls to cohesion has been realised in most of the communities where we have launched this campaign.”

Two more Know Your Neighbourhood campaigns will be launched in Orlando and Springs.

Taxi violence
Violence at taxi ranks has reached unacceptably high levels, and needs to be combated as the majority of the province’s people use public transport. There would be stricter law enforcement at taxi ranks, and the department also called on anyone who witnessed violence to come forward with what they knew, she said.

A crime perception session will also be hosted during the month to assess what more can be done to lower the levels of crime. “The level of crime not only makes communities feel unsafe, even in their own homes, but also has the potential to hamper foreign investment and the tourism sector,” Mazibuko pointed out.

“It is for this reason that the department will host a dialogue with different embassies and businesses to share and pave a way to retain the foreign investment we so desire and thus create more jobs.”

In addition, there is an SMS line on which people can complain about or report criminal behaviour. Gauteng residents can send SMSes to 32026 to report any compliments or complaints against police officers; bribery – if they are asked to pay a bribe or if someone they know is involved in bribery; and domestic abuse cases.

The details of each of the month’s events will be released closer to the time of each session.

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