With KwaZulu-Natal crime spiralling out of control, the provincial government has announced plans to keep parolees under scrutiny after ex-offenders were linked to the province’s murders.
Delivering his Sopa at Pietermaritzburg’s Royal Showgrounds on Thursday, Premier Sihle Zikalala said the provincial government will rope in the correctional services department in its crime-fighting plans.
“We are concerned about the number of parolees that are implicated in crimes. We will partner with correctional services in crime prevention efforts,” he said.
According to the latest crime statistics released by police minister, Bheki Cele, KZN has the highest number of murders in the country.
Zikalala, who announced that the provincial government would be reviving community policing forums, also attributed the surge in crime to the circulation of illegal firearms in the province’s communities.
“The crime wave is fuelled by illegal weapons and drugs. We will intensify efforts to stop the proliferation of illegal firearms, drugs, and fraudulent gun licences.
“Our province will embark on a major initiative to reclaim our streets, towns and villages from armed and dangerous criminals, and businesses that do not comply with South African laws,” he said.
Unemployment and infrastructure
Apart from crime, the province was also battling high unemployment, precipitated by slow economic growth.
As part of efforts to create jobs and stimulate economic growth, Zikalala said, the government was rolling out infrastructure projects that will absorb the unemployed.
“As we committed in the last Sopa, we are pleased that all the 14 Welisizwe bridges are now complete. Communities can now cross safely to access important services even when there is flooding.
“This year we will, through the intervention of the Welisizwe Bailey Bridges, create an additional 11 000 jobs.
“We welcome the pronouncement in the Sona that more of these bridges will be built this year,” he said.
More than R8 billion, Zakalala said, has been allocated to the province’s road infrastructure programme.
“Of this, R4,8 billion will go to the maintenance of existing infrastructure and R3,9billion is allocated for construction of new projects, upgrades and other engineering work.
“This includes infrastructure damaged by the recent storms,” he said.
“Despite the impact of Covid-19, the provincial government was also able to attract investments,” Zikalala said.
“While the [Covid-19] setback besieged the provincial economic outlook, not all was doom and gloom on investment attraction in 2021,” he said.
“We are pleased to announce that through Trade Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN), our province attracted investment to the value of R5,3billion with over 8 554 jobs created,” he said.
Zikalala delivered his Sopa as KZN businesses and households are struggling to cope with power outages.
A provincial electrification plan to address power outages is being developed, said Zikalala.
“The Department of Minerals and Energy has approved the appointment of professional service providers to undertake a study to develop the provincial integrated electrification master plan within KZN province.
“The master plan enables municipalities to generate their own energy.
“eThekwini and Msunduzi are already piloting this as part of the energy plans,” he said.
On the July unrest, which cost the province billions of rands and several lives, Zikalala said the provincial government’s focus has now shifted to “healing and reconciliation”.
“While we battle the effects of Covid-19, our province is yet to recover from the destruction and deaths of the July unrest. We must do more to heal our province, reconcile communities, and get justice for the victims of the Phoenix violence.
“At the same time, we must draw on the collective goodwill of all the people of the province to turn the corner towards a KwaZulu-Natal that is truly united and at peace with itself,” he said.