Residents of Plessislaer and surrounding areas in Pietermaritzburg say they are tired of unfulfilled government promises. The area has experienced a sharp increase in serious crimes such as murder, robbery, and Gender-Based Violence.
Community members say President Cyril Ramaphosa must table a practical plan of action to help resolve the situation when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday.
The Plessislaer policing area in Pietermaritzburg is one of the country’s most dangerous places to live. This was revealed by Police Minister, Bheki Cele, during the release of the quarterly crime statistics for July to September of last year.
The police station has the fourth-highest figures of contact crime countrywide, which includes murder, robbery, and sexual offenses.
Plessislaer resident, Sihle Ngwenya says police simply don’t have adequate resources to deal with the reported crimes.
“The problem is that the police station has limited resources because of how big the area is. Other neighbouring areas also rely on this police station.”
Some residents say poverty and poor service delivery contribute to the high crime rate. They say when street lights are not fixed and the grass is not cut, it is easy for criminals to make their getaway.
Gary Clarke says the high crime rate is chasing away investors.
“Other communities that cannot afford. Security companies are faced with life-threatening situations, so we are going to be moving out of this city as soon as we can because we have had enough. We are tired of words. Our minister of police, the honorable Mr Cele, get your act together, put proper well qualified police, in leadership. And I am just one person with a business that is looking at selling and moving out of PMB.”
A local Crime Watch administrator, Megan Nicol, says empty promises from police top brass have resulted in the escalation of various crimes, even in neighbouring areas.
“I would hope to see a little bit more action, in terms of crime it’s all very well saying we are concerned about crime. But the people don’t want to hear ‘we are concerned about crime.’ The people wanna hear what you gonna do about crime. And in KZN at the moment, we know that crime is a huge issue. We are probably one of the highest at the moment in the country. So, what is he actually doing about it. We wanna see a plan of action and we wanna see that implemented.”
Meanwhile, a local branch of the NGO Lifeline says government is not taking the scourge of Gender-Based Violence seriously.
Lifeline helps victims of GBV. The organisation says in the past six months over 3 000 incidents of GBV were reported to them. About 1 500 of those were from the Plessislaer community. The majority of the cases involve girls under the age of 18.
Lifeline Director, Nikiwe Biyela, says the abuse of alcohol and drugs, as well as illegal firearms, contribute to the high crime rate.
“He actually said he considered Gender-Based Violence as a second pandemic. We think actions should speak to that. It’s well and good to say that it’s a second pandemic, but we want to see resources being put into that. I will give you an example. We are struggling with DNA. In South Africa, there are cases of rape, murder, robbery that have been pending, waiting for DNA. So, we would like the President prioritise the issue of DNA, prioritise the issue of making sure that each province at least has its own DNA lab. Because, by so doing, it will fast-track all the cases that are going through court.”
Biyela says it’s about time that government prioritised these cases.
Residents say more collaboration is needed between police and communities to tackle crime.