‘AmaPanyaza’ can finally fight crime as Lamola designates them as traffic officers

Two crime prevention wardens Ntokozo Ngubane from Benoni and Brendon Petersen from Toekomsrus. Picture: Supplied

Two crime prevention wardens Ntokozo Ngubane from Benoni and Brendon Petersen from Toekomsrus. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 13, 2023


Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has conferred Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s crime prevention wardens, which are also known as amaPanyaza, with the same legal status as the Gauteng provincial traffic officers.

His spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said although they were legally being designated as traffic officers, they could still fight crime as law enforcement officers, but their powers were limited when compared with the SA Police Services.

Lamola provided an update on the status of the 6,000 crime prevention wardens, which were established by Lesufi and Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko in February in a bid to combat crime in the communities.

The crime prevention officers received three months of training at a farm in Cullinan, also recently made headlines for crashing over 22 BMW vehicles that they had been issued with.

“After conducting a thorough analysis of the applicable legal frameworks, it was determined that for the Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens to exercise peace officer powers, they must assume the same legal status as Gauteng Provincial Traffic Officers.

“Provincial traffic officers currently carry out their duties within the ambit of their peace officer designation, supported by the necessary legal framework,” said Phiri, in a short update on Tuesday.

The Gauteng Government had written to Lamola in June, seeking the minister to designate the Crime Prevention Wardens as peace officers in terms of Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977.

Phiri explained that under Section 334(1)(a), the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services has the authority to confer peace officer status to any person by their office, to exercise power under the Criminal Procedure Act, any offence, or any designated class of offences.

Phiri said Lamola had been in talks with Premier Lesufi and Police Minister Bheki Cele over the issue.

“The government is determined to take every possible measure to prevent crime and safeguard the well-being of our neighbourhoods,” he said.

Recently, the Gauteng police top management issued a directive this week that community wardens were not allowed to undertake any police duties at police stations.

This followed reports that the amaPanyaza were certifying documents and performing the duties of peace officers at some stations.

Lesufi had also been at loggerheads with Lamola and Cele over the issue, publicly threatening the minister's days were numbered if the crime prevention officers weren’t given the desired recognition.

“We’ve trained these young people to be police wardens; you, as a minister, are failing to recognise them. Your days are numbered,” Lesufi said in the video.

“We can’t, when young people are assisting us to fight crime and you undermine them. You can’t, when we’ve trained young people to be in the streets in our townships to protect young people when they study in our schools at night, and you don’t want to recognise them,” he said.

It is unclear if the amaPanyaza will now be handed firearms and how they will be integrated with Gauteng provincial traffic officers.

Lesufi welcomed the announcement.

"We welcome this announcement that finally clarifies the uncertainty over the status of the Crime Prevention Wardens. This announcement affirms what we have said all along, that the CPWs are a legal, well-equipped provincial law enforcement body that collaborates with other law enforcement organizations in the province. They operate under the supervision of the other law enforcement agencies, i.e Gauteng Traffic and local authorities", said Lesufi.

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