“The newly released crime statistics indicate that steady progress continues to be made in the national fight against crime across a broad front, building on the achievement over the previous few years,” he adds.
These positive tendencies are, however, counter- balanced by negative trends in specified crime categories, especially regarding serious and violent crime instigated by organised crime syndicates.
“Negative trends have continued beyond the reporting period and have the potential to overshadow successes achieved in the year under review in the national fight against crime,” Nzimande comments.
The report indicates an ongoing high level of serious and violent crime in the business sector, including robberies undertaken by well-armed, highly organised groups on the cash-in-transit, gaming and retail sectors.
Nzimande says that both the number of aggravated robberies and the financial losses remain a serious cause for concern.
“However, owing to proactive and decisive action taken by both businesses and government, the number of fatalities and deaths in these robberies are being reduced.” The Industry Alignment Forum, which is facilitated by Business Against Crime, categorised business robberies, syndicated theft and commercial crime as ‘common threats’, as a result of the ongoing prevalence of these crimes.
The partnership is now poised to make a meaningful impact on these crimes in the coming months, particularly since government recently prioritised aggravated robberies for special focused action.
“The real challenge is to reduce the overall levels of crime and violence. It is incumbent that all South Africans work together with government in eradicating the scourge of crime and violence in our society, while promoting good moral values,” Nzimande urges.
Business Against Crime and the business sector have welcomed the decision by President Thabo Mbeki to re-energise the partnership between business and government at the highest possible level with respect to the national crime challenges.
This, according to Nzimande, will create an environment for joint engagement between the leadership of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster as well as representatives from the Business Working Group and Business Against Crime.
Business Against Crime is and has been involved in many crime-prevention programmes and initiatives throughout South Africa.
The criminal-justice strengthening programme is designed to build and support the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, through the implementation of various initiatives founded by USAID.
The Tiisa Thuto programme teaches nonviolent methods of conflict resolution and positive morality, including life skills and personal values, in schools to reduce crime and violence, while improving the standards of learning.
The support programme for police stations aims to improve service delivery at police stations through effective management, best practices, skills and capacity development.
The commercial-crime programme has established specialised commercial crime court centres (SCCCCs) countrywide, staffed by specialists to ensure quick and appropriate senten- cing for the convicted.
Four SCCCCs have been established in Tshwane, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban. Future courts of this kind will be established in Cape Town and Bloemfontein.
Nzimande reports that the SCCCC initiative has achieved an average 98% conviction rate and the case-processing time has been reduced from 30 months, in 1999, to 14 months, last year.
One of the biggest initiatives is the organised crime programme, which aims to reduce large-scale syndicated crimes by removing the commercial benefit in the trade of stolen goods, as well as effective prosecution of offenders.
The current focus is on vehicle theft and hijacking, cellphone theft and the theft of copper cables.
This programme has resulted in significant improvement in business processes within the vehicle-management system, aimed at rooting out fraud and corruption and improving service delivery.
It has been implemented throughout Gauteng and was initiated in the North West, Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal.
“We have seen a 30% reduction in hijackings in Gauteng over the past year and have a coordinated approach to chop shop disruption operations supported by legislation,” Nzimande continues.
Additionally, the programme has allowed for more control over the movement of so-called ‘vehicles in transit’, reducing the illegal registration of second-hand vehicles locally.
The correctional services support programme was introduced to the Department of Correctional Services in its quest to become one of the best in the world, delivering correctional services with integrity and excellence.
The main objective of the project is to create a human rights environment in which persons under correction can be developed, resulting in their complete rehabilitation.
In line with this, Business Against Crime is focused on the development and implementation of technology strategy, implementation of the integrated human resources strategy, and the development and implementation of the costing model.
Another initiative undertaken by Business Against Crime was the creation of an industry alignment forum, which seeks to align and enhance business-sector initiatives aimed at reducing crime and violence.