KZN to get its own “AmaPanyaza”

  • The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal has announced that the province will follow Gauteng in recruiting young people to serve as community watch members.
  • 1 000 youths from KZN will serve as “crime prevention volunteers” similar to the “AmaPanyaza” in Gauteng.
  • Gauteng’s own premier has recruited around 7 000 people to serve as community watch in the province, a highly controversial initiative.

The viral “AmaPanyaza” crime prevention warden initiative could migrate from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal if Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube has anything to do about it. In a State of the Province Address given in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday this week, the KZN premier stated her intention to recruit 1 000 young people to serve as “crime prevention volunteers” in the province.

Originally a project cooked up by Gauteng’s Premier Panyaza Lesufi, the crime prevention wardens are essentially community watch members, given uniforms and basic training. They are supposed to handle crime of a lighter nature, seeing as they have not been granted advanced training or have been equipped with weapons.

According to Lesufi’s own State of the Province Address, Gauteng now has around 7 000 young people serving as community wardens and earning a wage from the province and its taxpayer base.

While she didn’t explore the recruitment of the volunteers in a larger and more realistic capacity, Dube-Ncube did also announce that the Department of Community Safety and Liaison will in the next year or two establish a “Community Safety Intervention Unit” which will apparently be used to bolster law enforcement in KZN.

“The SAPS has also announced significant improvements in the allocation of resources with more vehicles and trainee Constables being made available in KwaZulu-Natal,” said the premier.

“The Department of Community Safety and Liaison has bought 60 safety patrol cars that will be used by the Community Safety Committees and Community Police Forums to complement the work of the police,” she added.

Dube-Ncube’s own provincial address hits a few points that are similar to Lesufi. The Gauteng premier also mentioned the acquisition of more vehicles to support the police in the province. It is important to note both Dube-Ncube and Lesufi belong to the same party in the ANC.

Lesufi’s “AmaPanyaza” warden initiative has been met with mostly criticism on social media. Political parties like the EFF have called for the removal of the volunteers on the ground that the project has not followed the appropriate procurement processes. Some claim that at best the entire project is a publicity stunt and at worst, it is a way for Lesufi to establish a private military force.

There are also some who have welcomed the initiative. It solves two issues at once in underprivileged communities, increasing crime prevention and bestowing jobs to young community members who would otherwise have no work and earn no wage.

At the State of the Province Address, Lesufi’s inclusion of the 7 000-strong AmaPanyaza and their pandering to the premier was seen as evidence of an attempt to strong-arm his opposition. As for Dube-Ncube, her own announcement that KZN will pursue a similar project has mostly been received as a case of copying Lesufi’s homework.

[Source – SA News]

[Image – @ISephara on X]


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