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In a ground-breaking initiative to fight the scourge of the trio crimes, the partnership of communities, business and government, has already yielded the much awaited Second-hand Goods Act, which was promulgated by parliament in April 2009. The Act aims “to regulate the business of dealers in second-hand goods and pawnbrokers, in order to combat trade in stolen goods; to promote ethical standards in the second-hand goods trade; and to provide for matters connected therewith.”

Microdot technology could go a long way in clamping down on the sale of stolen property if the act and relevant penalties are applied in cases of prosecution, as the goods could be checked and the legal owners identified.

Microdotting is set to become compulsory on all new vehicles from January 2011. The South African Police Service (SAPS) has announced that microdots will have to be present on all vehicles registered for the first time in South Africa on or after January 1, 2011; all vehicles to which the SAPS allocates a new vehicle identification number (VIN) on or after January 1, 2011; and all vehicles imported into South Africa on or after January 1, 2011.

The Minister of Transport is still to publish regulations in terms of the National Road Traffic Act to make this a requirement.

The microdots used to mark vehicles will have to comply with SANS 534-1, which is South Africa’s new microdotting standard.

Traditionally, a vehicle is identified through its VIN and/or chassis number. However, given the illicit market for stolen vehicles and parts, this number is often easily filed off and changed. This allows stolen or hijacked vehicles to be relicensed under a new identity, or for the parts to be sold, or for the vehicle to be exported. Currently, roughly 50% of stolen and hijacked vehicles are relicensed in the country, ending up back on the country’s roads, 30% are sold for parts, and 20% are exported to neighbouring countries.

In South Africa, about 90 000 vehicles to the value of more than R9 billion are stolen each year. Also, more than 12 000 recovered but unidentified vehicles, worth more than R1 billion, are destroyed annually by the SAPS.

A study done by Business Against Crime South Africa on a number of fully microdotted models found that the recovery rate for the microdotted models was 91%, against a rate of only 52% of non-microdotted models within the same class.

My community, my future (how do communities get involved – social movement)

Community Police Forums (CPFs) are comprised of organisations and individuals who are mobilised with one key objective: to reduce the levels of criminality experienced in a community and to deter crimes from taking place in a community.

Institutions such as schools, ratepayers associations, civic organisations, businesses and faith-based organisations are examples of organisations that work in partnership with their local police station in a local Community Police Forum.

As a partnership between the police and the community, CPFs seek to promote the effective protection of the members of the local community and a better quality of life for all.

When communities are involved in the fight against crime by not tolerating crimes in their community and assisting to be the ears and eyes of the police who cannot be everywhere, criminals are deterred from doing crime because the environment for crime is no longer there.

CPFs help to maintain a visible, accessible policing presence which enhances the public’s confidence in the police.

Community members’ participation and innovative ideas can make a huge difference in the efficiency and effectiveness of the South African Police Service and the manner in which social crime prevention is approached in specific areas.

Gauteng Provincial Government doing its bit too

The Gauteng Department of Community Safety announced earlier this year that 36 new CPFs would be established during 2010/11, while the existing 134 will be sustained.

“CPFs are arguably part of the backbone of crime fighting in this country. They certainly occupy a central space with policing, conscientising communities on safety tips, behaviours and support for law enforcement initiatives. They will be at the forefront during this financial year in convening regular public meetings in their communities where crime information is shared by police station management and tips discussed.

Integral to our efforts to building safe communities, has been our initiative to build a strong, sustainable and massive social movement against crime. This initiative is grounded in our belief that only through mass, concerted and collective action by our communities will we create activist communities intolerant of criminal activity in their midst.

Individually and collectively, all these organisations play a crucial part in creating awareness in and mobilising communities to participate in anti crime activities. It is our intention this financial year and government term to extend this movement to all areas in the province.

Whilst this movement is crucial in lifting awareness levels amongst communities, it is the combination of these efforts and law enforcement that will result in behaviour change amongst our communities. And it is also this combination that will ensure that our communities are, and feel safe.

The community policing officers at local police stations can supply the details of the Chairperson of the local CPF to community members wanting to get involved.”

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