Address by President Nelson Mandela at the launch of the "Don't do Crime" campaign

19 November 1996

Premier of Gauteng, and MEC for Safety & Security
Chief Executive Officer of the SABC;
Chairperson of Business Against Crime;
Ladies and gentlemen,

South Africans can take pride in what we have achieved in the tow and a half years since our nation voted for freedom and a better life for all our people.

We have established electoral democracy from central government to the smallest communities across our land. We have begun to make improvements in the daily lives of millions of our people, especially in the rural areas. We have laid a basis for even higher economic growth to create hundreds of thousands of jobs a year and produce resources for still more far-reaching improvements in living conditions.

But to make the most of our opportunities, and in particular to provide a climate for investment, growth and job-creation, there are problems which we must urgently tackle. Amongst the foremost of these is the problem of crime.

Each of our achievements has depended on a partnership of all sectors of our society with government. Each step of progress is proof that by working together we can tackle whatever problems we have.

And so it must be with crime. We do not expect to have a crime-free society - all societies face this problem.

But a focused and concerted effort by all South Africans can bring it under control and reduce it to a minimum. We owe it to each other, in the spirit of the New Patriotism, to make sure that crime does not prevent us reaping the fruits of democracy. Government and society must join hands in combating crime and even more importantly in preventing it.

Our National Crime Prevention Strategy for the first time crates a framework for a co-ordinated and integrated fight against crime that involves the whole of our society. And it has the broadest support.

The challenge now is to get down to implementing it in vigorous united action against crime.

For its part government has started to put in place laws that close in on the criminals. This includes measures to strengthen the hands of the police to act against national and international criminal syndicates; drastic steps on the carrying of weapons, particularly illegal weapons; and a tougher stance on bail, sentencing and parole conditions.

Government is determined to turn the criminal justice system we inherited into an effective and certain instrument against crime, with a police service that has the confidence of communities and courts that can be counted on to dispense effective justice.

This clear message has been backed up by intensified police actions and as a result serious crimes are on the decline in most parts of the county.

But lasting solutions demand that we go further. In particular we must strengthen and entrench a culture of respect for the law. Moral values need enhancing, to repair damage to the fabric of society torn by apartheid., From child to parent we must refuse to tolerate criminality.

It is not an easy task because it requires of those who think of ourselves as law-abiding, that we ask ourselves such difficult questions as these. Have we directly or indirectly contributed to the perpetration of crime? Have we become accustomed to buying goods which may be stolen because they are "cheaper"?

Building a culture of respect for the law is no easy task because it requires committed action, as individuals and communities in our areas, to create an environment where children can grow without fear.

It requires of us that we tirelessly educate our families and indeed the community at large, that crime causes pain and suffering to its victims and harms the community and the country.

What is so heartening is that South Africans are already rising to this challenge. Community Police Forums are functioning across the country. Initiatives by business to help improve co-ordination within the criminal justice system and to avail resources and training within the police are examples of this mobilisation. So is the NEDLAC Conference on Crime and Violence later this week.

The campaign being launched today bears witness to the effectiveness of the partnership between the Gauteng Safety & Security Ministry, Business Against Crime and the SABC, propelled by support from the churches, the youth, women and local government structures.

It provides a lead for every sector of society to play an even more visible role, in this fight against crime.

It's message - Don't do Crime - should be heard in the streets and schools; in the churches, prisons, and recreation centres; at home and at work; in the towns, cities and rural areas throughout our country.

This is a message addressed to all of us, not only to those who are criminals. It is a call not to commit crime; not to allow crime to find refuge in the very communities on which it preys; not to keep silent when we are aware of the identity of people who have committed crimes; not to sustain crime by allowing the fruits of crime to be sold.

It is a call to join your local Community Policing Forums and be active in the fight against crime - by doing so we can strengthen the police; help ensure that they carry out their duties in an appropriate manner; and help them rid themselves of corrupt elements as well.

The SABC and its partners should be congratulated for the lead they have taken in this campaign by providing valuable air time for advertisements and other possible programmes.

May their example inspire others to emulate them. May the "DON'T DO CRIME" campaign reach into the hearts of our people and our communities.

Its success will help build our country and the future of our children.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website