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Independent Senator Azeez, “The worst thing we can do with crime is politicise it”

Noorani Azeez
Noorani Azeez

INDEPENDENT Senator Noorani Azeez has warned against politicizing crime and urged policymakers to take steps to remedy the situation.

During Tuesday’s Sitting of the Senate, in his contribution to the debate on the motion to establish an Anti-Crime Initiative Fund, Azeez noted that political parties have failed to maintain a grip on the situation and called for more social programmes to be put in place.

According to him, “the worst thing we can do with crime is politicise the issue because the harsh reality is crime and the communities which are currently inflamed have been before us for decades. They have been sitting and they have been festering…”

“What we have to desperately try to do is address our failures and shortcomings as policymakers and to dramatically expedite (the) healing that must come to these communities in order to mitigate issues of violent crime,” Azeez said, adding “my hope is that this Anti-Crime Initiative Fund will include a lot more social programmes that are critical to the healing of these communities.”

He also provided a handful of solutions and stressed on the need for long term measures.

“I am not very clear on what the funds are going to be used for but I dare say that the whole concept of fighting crime… that psychological approach to addressing crime in order to mitigate it is a short-term measure and not long term…,” Azeez said.

“Land rationalization programmes (are) critical if you want to fight crime…. addressing the rehabilitation of prisoners… reforming the education system…,” he stated.

Azeez also urged politicians to show a genuine interest in citizens, noting that many have expressed their displeasure with their behaviour.

According to him, whilst some individuals have attempted “to be the hero in solving crime, the reality is this is not something that can be solved by any political party. If anything, political parties have failed us time and time again.”

Instead of doing the latter, Azeez suggested, political parties should “fall in line and get behind civil society actors that have been walking these communities… not for political gains, not to be politically expedient, but to sit down, listen, (and) finally, to hear the cries of these people and to understand what their issues are.”

Said Azeez: “It is unacceptable when these individuals lose loved ones that the only thing we do is show up with our police officers but in showing up, where are our social service programmes and our support programmes? Where are our counsellors and people who can intervene at the developmental level? Where’s the caring? where’s the compassion?”

Government, he said, must ensure that funds are used realistically to address the needs, issues and concerns of these people.

“They’re sick, tired and fed up of political actors that come around and shop for votes once every five years. They’re tired of the social services systems that don’t come often enough to address their needs, they’re tired of the education system that locks them out, they’re tired of the private sector that doesn’t want to give them a job because of where they come from,” Azeez said.