News Article

Mayor's call to action to divided political leadership

Published: November 17, 2023



Speaker of Council,

Ladies and gentlemen.

We were born for a time such as this. While others choose to leave crime to the South African Police Services and govern an institution under siege from vandals and corruption, we choose to stand up. Criminals walked these streets, long before I became Executive Mayor. However, I am not turning a blind eye as the residents of this city demand better of their leaders. They want us to constantly remind those responsible for crime prevention, investigation and prosecution, that we deserve better. They want us to play an active role in bringing meaningful solutions to the table.

While our residents are searching for answers, some among us are pulling publicity stunts, while they should be held accountable for not fixing our surveillance systems to assist the Police in fighting crime. Many innocent residents are caught in the crosshairs of opportunistic criminals who saw a house divided, and systematically expanded their territory. A fear of failure should never stop us from doing the best we can, with what we have.

The family of young Chadwin Witbooi is demanding justice for a son who should have written his exams today. The family of those people brutally murdered in a shack in KwaDwesi on Sunday, also yearn for justice. The same goes for the three people callously murdered on Tuesday in Kariega. While we have a house divided, evil prospers.

National Assembly House Chairman of Committees, Cedric Frolick, highlighted this very eloquently when we handed over our ten-point plan on Friday. He said that while we are deliberately focusing on votes of no-confidence and willful disruption, the bloodshed will continue. We are part of an ecosystem that requires all hands on deck, to restore peace and build a prosperous Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

Deputy Executive Mayor, we are facing a common enemy. While others are shouting across the aisle to serve their personal interests, residents decried a life of fear and criminal mayhem at a Crime Imbizo, held yesterday in Arcadia. With most of the top law enforcement agencies and the National Prosecuting Authority represented, residents grasped the opportunity to speak directly to those responsible for their safety and security.

We were born for a time such as this, to show that true leadership is not about pointing fingers at other spheres of government, but to stand up in the middle of battle and take charge. The people under siege in Kamesh, Motherwell, KwaNobuhle, Zwide and the Northern Areas have the same blood, that courses through our veins. Their pain and helplessness should haunt us on a daily basis. A city under siege cannot prosper.

With cameras gathering dust in storage, while surveillance systems were in total disrepair, we were told that we had the best government ever. Corruption flourished, while they were selectively addressing dishonesty, with those accused, of the most egregious of crimes, sitting right beside them. We are not turning a blind eye.

Chief Whip, we were born for a time such as this. Our Rapid Response on Crime (RROC) initiative has been in place for about two months already. We brought all those, who currently play a role in crime prevention, detection and armed response, together to form a close collaboration. I am encouraged by the support from private security companies, community policing forums, the South African Police Services and our own Metro Police to tackle crime in our city.

We collectively crafted this operational strategy and will continuously monitor it to maximize our available resources.

Ten-point plan

1.    Visible policing focused on identified crime hotspots.

2.    South African Police Services Tactical Response Teams must be deployed in the Northern Areas, Kariega and the townships.

3.    An integrated Joint Operations Centre (JOC), manned by law enforcement agencies, private security, community policing forums and neighbourhood watches will be established in South End from next week.

4.    CCTV video surveillance systems will be installed in hotspot areas.

5.    Identification of repeat offenders with a renewed focus on cold cases and the issuing and execution of warrants of arrest.

6.    A database of drug dens in every policing precinct must be established, followed by actions of the Special Investigations Unit, Asset Forfeiture Unit and the South African Revenue Services, amongst others.

7.    The Organized Crime Unit must identify criminal high-flyers and act by arresting and prosecuting them.

8.    The establishment of specialized courts with dedicated prosecutors, like during the 2010 Football World Cup, and a detectives unit that specifically focuses on gang violence.

9.    The establishment of a reward system aimed at infiltrating criminal organizations by offering financial rewards to participants.

10.                 Persistent compliance operations to stop the flow of unlicensed firearms.

We were born for a time such as this. Thank you to the MMC of Safety and Security, Cllr Stag Mitchell, and his team for working tirelessly with top anti-crime specialists in our city to craft this clear strategy. An implementation framework, with timeframes will now be developed to ensure that it does not remain a plan and an impressive soundbite.

We were born to stand up in the face of adversity and bring real change at the worst of times. We owe it to those victims of the mass killings potentially linked to municipal tenders and financial crimes. We owe it to the granny who prays for the safe return of her grandchildren from school or the wellbeing of a son or daughter.

Gone are the days that politicians cover up wrongdoing in order to point fingers after the fact.

Let us unite as men and women of integrity.

Thank you very much. Enkosi kakhulu.

Cllr Gary van Niekerk

Executive Mayor

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