Premier Alan Winde got many hot under the collar at a public meeting with various civic groups in Athlone last week when he said parents should instil values in their children to counteract social ills.
Esah Parker, chairman of the Penlyn Estate Civic Association, was among those who took offence.
“Don’t talk about values and appoint people with questionable credentials – that is how we lose our moral compass,” he said.
Mr Winde attended the meeting at the Dulcie September Civic Centre, on Monday May 23, along with Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen, Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez, and Mobility MEC Daylin Mitchell. Ward 49 councillor Rashid Adams and Sub-council 14 chairman Mzuvukile Nikelo were also at the meeting which addressed safety, transport, and fighting gender violence.
Mr Parker said there was no need to spend money on collecting data to study crime. “As a community we know where the gangsters are. You also know where they are, you are just scared. You know criminality is in government. If you are really sincere, come back to us with solutions. Tell us how many gangsters will be arrested.”
Heideveld activist Vanessa Adriaanse said: “The community depends on people like us who are involved with the neighbourhood watches, CPFs, and the Walking Bus. We have the solutions for the problems, but because we are met with gatekeepers like ward councillors who keep us from connecting with you, the work cannot be done. When you send an email to our ward councillor, you are lucky to get a response within a year.”
Mr Winde said he knew the community was tired of crime, gangsterism, gender violence, poor transport services and poor service delivery.
“By listening to these important issues faced, we can take action, improve responsiveness and innovate where necessary,” he said.
Mr Allen said: “I want to assure residents that we take our constitutional oversight role very seriously and will use all mechanisms necessary to hold SAPS accountable should there be a failure in fulfilling their mandate.
“It is also important to remember that safety is everyone’s responsibility. I will also engage the officials in the department about how we can further strengthen the neighbourhood watches and CPFs and any other stakeholder who makes the safety of communities their priority. It will take all of our effort, including the three spheres of government, the private sector and civil society at large to effectively address crime.”
Ms Fernandez said the government could not tackle social ills on its own. “Many of the answers to our challenges lie within our communities. I believe that if we place the community at the centre of what we do, we can co-create a shared future. Communities have solutions and gifts that must be acknowledged.”