Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tycoon offered Mbeki R1 billion to fight crime

The South African government under Thabo Mbeki rejected an offer of R1 billion from a leading South African businessman to help fight serious crime.

The same offer, to pour money into helicopters, computers and hi-tech equipment, is to be made to President Jacob Zuma, who has spoken out strongly on the need to fight crime.

The extraordinary offer to Mbeki and now to Zuma comes from one of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, Douw Steyn.

He has revealed to the Sunday Tribune that he wrote a lengthy dossier, now printed in book form, detailing how he believed South Africa should go about purging the scourge of crime.

He had been motivated in part by two bad experiences that led to his sister emigrating.

"I told him (Mbeki) I would sponsor a whole new approach to fighting crime. The first phase of a three-part programme would cost R1 billion and I would pay it."

All this was documented in Steyn's proposal.

"Mbeki told me I got it wrong. He said we didn't have a problem with crime in this country - the problem was that we had a perception of crime."

Steyn intends to repeat his offer to Zuma, who he has not met.

"Crime is a major problem in this country. I am still prepared to help the government, but please don't misread my motives. I don't want glory. The plan is to do all this in collaboration with the police."

Steyn said R1 billion would buy proper equipment to tackle the problem. "We are talking about buying satellite equipment, computers and helicopters for regular patrols - they would be available to police all over this country.

"The intention is to give them hi-tech facilities, which they don't really have now, to combat crime.

"They need to fight crime with special equipment, the best available. I propose to help fund a major assault on crime so that much of it can be eradicated.

"To do that, we would also need a specially created crime squad. And security guards should be given the right to shoot back.

"When criminals are caught, they should be locked away for a long time.

"My sister left this country because she had a few bad experiences of crime. Never mind letting criminals chase tourists away - they are chasing us away.

"It is a desperate situation and the government doesn't realise the damage it's doing."

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko did not know of any meeting between Steyn and Mbeki, and referred comments to Mukoni Ratshitanga, the spokesman for the former president.

Ratshitanga said that if Mbeki had pronounced on the matter, it would have been in his capacity as leader of the country. He could not comment on the content of material he had not seen.

Graham Wright, deputy chief executive of Business Against Crime, said the organisation could not comment on information to which it had not been privy.

"As far as we know, the government has made the fight against crime one of its top five priorities."

Steyn's warning to Mbeki was clear: "Crime is South Africa's main problem.

"It will be the end of this country as we know it unless it is tackled rigorously.

"If we do that, the rest will follow, and benefits such as investment, tourism and jobs, will flow from that. It is the most pressing issue facing us and we need to get it right. If we get this solved, tourists will flock to this country. It is a beautiful place and the whole world wants to come here.

"If all those visitors come, imagine the money they will bring in, the jobs they will create.

"Then there is the business investment which would increase vastly. We wouldn't have to create anything to achieve all this; it is here and waiting.

"We have a sunny, beautiful climate with low costs involved in flying to and around the country. People would come to have the most wonderful holidays.

"All that is preventing this from happening right now is a small group of hard-core criminals.

"They are not sophisticated, like the Mafia. And please don't tell me it's all because of social deprivation. A lot of people are starving in South Africa, but they don't go out and rob and murder."

Steyn said: "Of course, I knew Thabo from years ago. But by the time he got to be president, he seemed to have lost touch with reality."

1 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Douw Steyn? The one of drunken-girlfriend-wielding-broken-champagne bottle vs other girlfriend fame? That horrible diabetic little pis cat who got drunk and disorderly in the Wynberg magistrate's court not so long ago? Please. Douw Steyn will not even pay for his beaten up ex girlfriend's medical costs, never mind cough up a cent to charity or crime fighting, unless it involves his own turf. The last thing we need is a sociopathic munchkin like this making bogus promises. But I think Zuma will see through him.