State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba has urged citizens to be at the forefront of protecting their areas from becoming eyesores as a result of crime and neglect.
The Minister made the remarks at a gender-based violence imbizo in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
During the imbizo, Letsatsi-Duba visited the Hillbrow Police Station’s victim empowerment centre, where she engaged staff and victims, and handed over much-needed cosmetics. She later engaged with the public on issues affecting the troubled area.
During the engagement, residents raised concerns relating to the influx of illegal foreign nationals, the inundation of churches, drug abuse and peddling, police corruption, vagrancy and illegal trading.
Regarding illegal foreign nationals, the Minister said they needed to be part of such engagements, as they lived in the area and have to be part of efforts to find solutions to the problems raised.
“There is a perception that some illegal foreign nationals that come from a particular country are the perpetrators of drug crimes in this area… We [have to] include them in our discussions and integrate them in our daily lives. Police can play their role, social workers can play their role... but what remains is that we are a country that has committed to building a culture of human rights and a caring society. Leaving them [out] is not solving the problem,” she said.
Letsatsi-Duba said the hijacking of buildings and mushrooming of churches was a major concern for her department.
“It is for that reason we are here. We are here to talk about gender-based violence but also identify threats that seek to undermine the sovereignty of the country, the economy and destabilise peace in this country,” she said.
She urged the public to work together to eradicate issues plaguing their areas. In that manner, she said, the public becomes the country’s first line of defence.
“You must know who your neighbour is. You must be able to identify what your neighbour is doing. You must be interested to know what work this neighbour does to earn an income. If not, you must have a keen interest to understand the livelihood of this person. Yes, police are there to do policing but that is the responsibility of every citizen of this country.”
Regarding illegal trading, Letsatsi-Duba said traders selling illegal goods in the country need to be brought to book.
“If we watch like spectators while illegal goods are being sold in our streets, in our presence and we buy those illegal goods, we are killing the economy of this country. It will never grow and will remain where it is and create more unemployment. We have to take action,” she said.
She bemoaned the state of the suburb, saying Hillbrow used to be the best town and it has “deteriorated in front of our eyes”.
The Minister said some of the claims made during the engagement need to be investigated. – SAnews.gov.za