Residents need to notice tangible changes for Operation Buya Mthetho to succeed

When the City first launched Operation Buya Mthetho, a multi-departmental project aimed at by-law enforcement, I said in a column that the real test would be in the operation’s longevity and the extent to which the state enforcement agencies could hold lawbreakers to account.

A few months on, and the City has certainly made a noise about their successes. Just recently, the City’s Executive Mayor, Herman Mashaba, said in a press statement that since its launch, Operation Buya Mthetho ‘has brought in a total of just under R600 million owed to the City that would previously have been lost through illegal connections and historical debt for the non-payment of services’.

It’s an impressive figure and big ups to the City.

The effect of the operation seems to have been felt by taxi drivers too as, on Sunday, Metro police said in a statement that an Alexandra taxi association would strike on Monday because 500 minibus taxis in ‘poor condition’ had been impounded by the operation since February.

But when I consulted some members of our newsroom to ask to what extent they had noticed the City getting tougher on enforcing by-laws and a greater Metro police presence, the views were divided. (While the campaign is multi-departmental, the extent to which a clampdown on bad driver behaviour was seen seemed to be the main consideration.)

I then posed the question to our social media users in a poll. Across six of our northern suburbs publications’ Facebook and Twitter pages, roughly one in every two voters said they had noticed the City getting tougher on enforcing by-laws and a greater Metro police presence.

So the community’s views were also divided.

More time is needed to truly weigh up the impact of the operation, and it still stands that its success will lie in its longevity and ability to hold lawbreakers to account. What we can take home is that enough residents have started to see a difference, which is surely a positive in itself.

There is an argument as to why it is important that community members notice a change, and it has to do with James Wilson and George Kelling’s ‘broken windows’ theory. Broken windows represent minor crimes and the theory aims to crack down on these offences that are thought to lead to more serious crimes.

Of course, there are critics of the theory too, but it makes sense that such a clampdown would set the tone of law and order.

If Operation Buya Mthetho is to fulfil its aim of ‘bringing the rule of law to the city’, surely the majority of residents would need to see the tangible difference. It is clear that the City is on the right track.

  AUTHOR
Daniella Potter
Group Editor

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