Justice Postponed, is Justice Denied

I spent the entire morning in Court 5 of the Pretoria Regional Court.

I was due to testify as a witness in the house robbery case where my family and I fell victim.

This incident took place in Nov 2013.

I returned to the court building after many years. As a reporter, I spent many long hours in the courts covering stories.

Little seems to have changed. The building is the same old dump. The courtrooms are still filled with stale air and they have not been renovated for years.

The system seems to have also changed little over the years. Case after case gets postponed.
Many prosecutors left at around 11am to attend the funeral of a colleague.

While waiting for the accused in my case to arrive, it was interesting to watch the prosecutors, lawyers, court officials and police officers at work.

Most have no rush…They joke, and walk around. In the public gallery, witnesses and even accused out on bail wait for the next move.

The Magistrate walks in and everyone stands. It appears this is when the serious stuff start.

Postponed…postponed…postponed…yes it continues.

In between an accused appears to be sentenced on a charge of corruption. He has been waiting for ten years for the case to be finalized. The man, a Home Affairs official, took a R2000 bribe from a Pakistani national.

Within 30 minutes, it’s all over. A witness testifies and the State and Defence argue their case. Immediately the magistrate hands down the sentence. 5 years in jail.

The State prosecutors are happy. The Defence lawyer is grumpy. He wants to appeal the conviction and sentence but aborts the application quickly after the magistrate asks whether it is a formal application.

In the meantime, a man shackled is brought into the public gallery by prison warders. He sits a few places away from us in the front row. I immediately recognized him as the suspect in my robbery case. He was apparently sentenced to 5 years in jail on another charge.

Eventually, the two accused are called to the stand and my son and I are asked to leave the courtroom. We are called back and asked to return to court on 28 May. Yes, another postponement.

The magistrate angrily tells the one accused “This is not a circus…” This is in response to him looking around the gallery and fiddling with his hands.

Their lawyers indicates they want to bring another bail application for the one man. This is possibly the fifth attempt.

We need an effective and efficient court system. Delays are causing lots of frustration. The system works far too slow. Promises over the years that things will improve at the lower courts have never materialized.

It’s time for action. The criminal justice system is critical to ensuring that we fight crime effectively. For as long as this does not happen, we are not going to see progress.

Abramjee: It’s time for active citizenry against drugs

Communities must stand up against drugs.

No area is immune.

We at Crime Line and Lead SA are being inundated with calls for help from across South Africa.

During a recent visit to areas in the Western Cape, the Minister in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu, and I met various communities as part of the #365days of activism initiative. Drugs, drugs and drugs topped the agenda wherever we went.

Dareleen James from Eldorado Park, the famous mother who wrote to President Jacob Zuma, continues to cry out for help saying her community is continuing to face an onslaught from drug dealers.

This week, mothers from Laudium and surrounding areas outside Pretoria called us – also appealing for urgent interventions.

Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Malobane accepted an invitation from Crime Line to meet affected individuals and community representatives at short notice.

Chairman of the Gauteng Community Police Board, Andy Mashaile, local councillor Farouk Essop, representatives from the SAPS and Tshwane Metro Police Dept also attended.

Resident after resident spoke about the drug scourge. It’s heartbreaking to hear how mothers complain about their young children hooked on drugs. Schools are also affected. A SGB member told the meeting how the dealers were targeting students.

Everyone is crying out for help.

Another common complain is how drug dealers are openly operating in the area – and allegedly working in cahoots with some local crooked cops.

It was also alleged that some drug dealers are often seen at the police station delivering take-away foods for cops.

Resident told the MEC how quickly dealers and peddlers are released after being arrested. Some don’t even appear in court.

Claims that a man who buys stolen property and who allegedly lives off ill-gotten gains again surfaced. At times victims are forced to buy their stolen property back – and again police allegedly fail to act.

The MEC promised urgent interventions. She said police had to be held accountable. She also appealed to the community to pass on detailed information anonymously.

SMS Crime Line on 32211 or call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

MEC Nkosi Malobane spoke openly and frankly. She lashed the SAPS at times.

The MEC promised to return to the area unannounced.

Her department will also have special awareness campaigns soon. She will continue to engage the Gauteng police leadership on the growing drug problem.

Nkosi Malobane is clearly a leader who takes no nonsense. She told the community she was “angry”
because she invited senior police officers to attend the meeting only to be told they are in a workshop for two days.

Earlier in the day, Mashaile and I drove through some hotspots to see what was happening for ourselves. It’s no secret that drug dealers are operating openly- some a few meters away from the Laudium police station.

A well know drug dealer approached us and openly threatened me. That’s how they operate. We should not be intimated.

We must all stand up against drugs and fight the scourge. We must all say NO to drugs. Become an active citizen and let’s pressurize authorities to act. Yes, act within the framework of the law and say #CountMeIn

#DrugWatch must become an on-going national initiative. Communities must own it.

I again repeated the call for the specialized narcotics units to return. The MEC, Mashaile and others agreed.

Stand up, do the right thing and make a difference in the spirit of #LeadSA.


Crime Stoppers conference addresses criminality

Crime Line head Yusuf Abramjee and Crime Stoppers International (CSI) president Alex Mc Donald sign the Cape Town declaration at the event. Pic: Crime Line.

Crime Line head Yusuf Abramjee and Crime Stoppers International (CSI) president Alex Mc Donald sign the Cape Town declaration at the event. Pic: Crime Line.

The 35th annual Crime Stoppers International (CSI) Conference – which aims to strengthen partnerships between the public, police and media – has been hailed as a success.

The three-day conference, held in Cape Town, hosted foreign and local delegates with over 50 expert speakers from around the world.

Conference chairperson and Crime Line head Yusuf Abramjee said crime continued to cost economies millions.

“This is especially detrimental to developing countries that more often than not depend on industries such as tourism for their livelihood. High levels of crime are not a drawing card for tourists,” said Abramjee.

“With the rise of globalisation, crime has risen with it. Our communities are becoming more and more vulnerable to criminals that hide behind computers in other countries. Too often criminals are one step ahead of us. They are sophisticated and have an almost endless supply of funds to bankroll their activities.”

Crime statistics released by police indicated that bank robberies increased by 200% in the 2013/2014 financial, while drug-related crimes increased by 26.1%

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said the effects of environmental crimes like waste dumping and pollution continued to impact air quality and further burden the public health system as more people become sick and require care.

“Species smuggling and poaching damages the unique and fragile biodiversity that has attracted tourists to our shores for so long,” said Molewa.

Molewa launched the UNEP-GEF Rhino Project last week in a bid to strengthen law enforcement capabilities to combat wildlife crime, with a specific focus on rhinos.

Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela addressed the conference in the week.

“I believe the successful collaboration between a civil society and government is based on appreciating the need for closing the cracks in our societies that only benefit criminals,” said Madonsela.

“I must indicate upfront that our crime [fighting] role as the Public Protector SA transcends our contribution to anti-corruption efforts,” she added.

An official declaration had been signed by Abramjee and CSI President Alex MacDonald to commit and map the way forward for the international collaboration.

– Caxton News Service

“The Time Has Come to Red Card Criminals” – Abramjee

new-header-D1The 35th Annual Crime Stoppers Conference kicked off in Cape Town on Sunday at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

Welcoming the many candidates from across the globe, Yusuf Abramjee, Head of Crime Line and the conference chairman said South Africa is not a third world dump and is going to host the best conference in the history of Crime Stoppers.

Abramjee’s speech sent a stern warning to criminals that they have nowhere to hide.

“We are going to renew our commitment to fight crime. The time has come to red card criminals. We will fight you at every corner of this country and the globe.”

Abramjee also thanked the local organizing committee for working tirelessly in organizing the conference.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega also welcomed the delegates from across the world to the conference.

“I wish all delegates from South Africa, the Southern African Region, the African continent and beyond, the very best during the course of the conference. This is the ideal opportunity for like-minded individuals to teach, learn, network and grow with their special areas of expertise and skill.

Phiyega said that people who are aware of crime must report it.

“Somebody, somewhere, someone knows something about crime and therefore that person must come forward and talk about the crime they know and point out the criminal they know. Keeping quiet is not an option.”

“Together we can stop crime,” said Phiyega.

The 35th Annual Crime Stoppers Conference runs from the 12th to the 15th of October.

Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News, 2014-10-13

Every community is affected by drugs

Ayanda at SABC News and New Age Business Briefing in Fourways .
The focus this morning is on crimes against children.
Crime Line head Yusuf Abramjee, Advocate Simi Pillay-van Graan the CEO of Business Against Crime (BACSA) & Brigadier Bafana Linda from SAPS, to discuss the current spurt in child abuse cases and how everyone can contribute to curb it….http://owl.li/AqCkK

Abramjee is on a crusade to stop crime

Yusuf Abramjee is on a crusade to end crime. (Image: Yusuf Abramjee)

Yusuf Abramjee is on a crusade to end crime. (Image: Yusuf Abramjee)

Romaana Naidoo

The man behind Lead SA and Crime Line, Yusuf Abramjee, will feature on the next instalment of the Play your Part television series on 6 July, to be flighted on SABC2 at 9pm.

Abramjee, who was born in Pretoria, started his career in journalism as a freelancer for Talk Radio 702 ahead of the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. Crime became his beat and soon after, in 1996, he was appointed the crime editor for 702 and its Cape counterpart, 567.

A career highlight, he says, was cornering fugitive cash heist kingpin Colin Chauke, hours after he was arrested and managed to get the famous words: “I feel good” out of Chauke as he left court. After making national headlines, this story won him a number of awards. For three consecutive years, Abramjee was named Journalist of the Year, Audio-Visual Reporter of the Year and Radio Reporter of the Year for his exclusive reports ranging from crime to politics.

After he was appointed Primedia Broadcasting’s group head of news and talk programming in 2005, Abramjee and a group of others founded the Crime Line campaign, which was officially launched in June 2007 with him at the helm. Tip-offs to Crime Line have resulted in the arrests of some 1 800 suspects and assisted in the recovery of over R40-million worth of stolen property, counterfeit goods and drugs.

Abramjee is also a founding member of Lead SA, a Primedia Broadcasting and Independent Newspapers initiative aimed at highlighting the achievements of the nation and celebrating the efforts of ordinary South Africans. This initiative encourages individuals to stand up and Lead SA.

The first “person of colour” to be elected chairman of the National Press Club in its 22-year history, Abramjee was re-elected in July 2001 and May 2002. He returned to head the organisation from 2010 to 2012. He has recently stepped down from this position.

He has received a number of awards: the Security Association of South Africa’s Security Personality of the Year award in September 2001; Leadership and Communicator of the Year Award in 2005; South Africa’s Personality of the Year in September 2007 for the Crime Line initiative; recognition by the South African Police Service’s top management for contributing to the fight against crime, with particular reference to Crime Line in 2008; and three top international media awards for Crime Line at the Crime Stoppers International conference held in Halifax, Canada in 2010.

In 2011, Abramjee received the Community Service Award from the Turquoise Harmony Institute for his continued work with Crime Line. He was also named the Adfocus Newsmaker of the year. His contribution to community service was acknowledged in the 2013 National Orders, when President Jazob Zuma bestowed on him the Order of the Baobab, Silver.

He was recently appointed the second vice-president of Crime Stoppers International and is the chairman of the South African Federation Against Copyright Theft.


The Drug Fight Needs YOU

The UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was marked on 26 June.

It is also a year since Lead SA and Crime Line launched the Drug Watch campaign to Gauteng.

Some 30 000 suspects were arrested and millions of rands worth of drugs were seized by police.

Despite numerous calls on the Justice Department, the conviction rate of these arrests are still unknown.

Initiatives aimed at curbing the trafficking and manufacturing of illicit drugs should be escalated with urgency.

At the same time, investment into rehabilitation and counselling should be revitalised for addicts.

The reality is we are losing the war on drugs.

The consequences of drug abuse on communities are devastating.

Cape Town communities are at war as gangsterism and drug trafficking continue to escalate.

Last weekend, 16-year-old Annestley Hartnick was shot multiple times in front of his home in Tafelsig by members of a gang.

He is just another casualty of gang rivalry.

Residents have warned that they will start taking the law into their own hands. This is something that we cannot afford.

No corner of South Africa is immune to the drug plague.

Meanwhile in Eldorado Park, outside Johannesburg, the drug situation is apparently again out of control. This despite President Jacob Zuma’s intervention in the area following a compelling letter from a mother, Dereleen James, pleading for help in the drug ridden area.

I attended a meeting in Eldorado Park recently with Gauteng Community Policing Board Chairman, Andy Mashaile and senior police officials. Community leaders claim that despite interventions into the area, it is business as usual for drug dealers.

Parents in this area are desperate. Dereleen, who founded the Sharing Without Shame initiative, is testimony to the sacrifices that the community has made and despite this, all indications are that the problem is worse than before.

Pointing fingers will not achieve anything, but Eldorado Park as a case study shows that we are not equipped to deal with the drug problem holistically.

Long-term and sustainable interventions are what we need.

When I visited a school west of Pretoria recently, I asked learners how many of them have experimented with drugs and alcohol. Half of the school’s hands went up. I was shocked.

Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi was equally shocked and have vowed to root out the top 10 gangsters operating in schools.

It is however clear that schools are easy targets for drug syndicates and many have become havens for dealers and addicts.

There is a common belief that only poor communities are affected. The reality is quite different. I’ve met with children from upper and middle class families experimenting with and often abusing drugs.

The war on drugs is not as simple as just locking up drug dealers. It is a multi-faceted problem that requires a multi-faceted solution.

The justice department needs to take the lead and ensure that not only dealers, but the kingpins and manufacturers are convicted and severely punished.

There have been discussions happening in the country regarding the legalisation of drugs. I do not know if this is the answer, but are we having the right discussions to determine the veracity of claims that it will significantly reduce the drug problem?

Headlines were recently made in the United Kingdom when a mother called for the legalisation of recreational drugs. Her 15-year-old daughter suffered a cardiac arrest last year after taking 0.5mg of ecstasy.

The mother believes that by lifting the prohibition, it will ensure that health professional and not dealers are in control of drugs.

Back home there is currently a bill before parliament seeking the legalisation of dagga.

It is going to be interesting to see how this debate unfolds.

The time of the whistleblower is here.

More and more we are seeing ordinary citizens from across the world playing a more active role in the issues that affect them.

Whether they are actively trying to change legislation, patrolling their neighbourhood or blowing the whistle on criminal activities in their communities, the change is coming from the bottom up.

This groundswell of growing active citizenship is not going unnoticed.

Police are counting more and more on information from the public. This is becoming a global phenomenon and for us commonplace.

In October South Africa is hosting the first ever Crime Stoppers International Conference on African soil. The conference, which is open to the public, will be held in Cape Town from 12 -15 October 2014.

Drug trafficking is one of the topics that will receive considerable attention, including the issue of legalisation.

It will also look at the Mexican cartels, gangsterism and what the rest of the world is doing to combat drug trafficking.

South Africa has to be part of this discussion and I truly think we have a contribution to make.

I was very impressed to learn about the ‘Shot Spot’ technology that will soon be tested in Cape Town.

This detection system will be able to triangulate the location of a gunshot. If successful, it will definitely assist police in tackling the problem with gangs.

We certainly look forward to engaging with the international community on crime. The best part is that this conference is open to everyone and all who have an interest in crime prevention.

Earlier this week The Star published an editorial on drug smuggling through OR Tambo International Airport. It has become such a common occurrence that 40kg of seized cocaine hardly made the news.

The fact that it didn’t speaks volumes of the apparent ease drugs are being smuggled into the country.

As the editorial points out, we are ill equipped to stop the trafficking of drugs to the country.

It also reminds us that we can no longer talk about crime in isolation.

The world is at war with drugs, but it’s no longer just a war for law enforcement and legislators. It is everyone’s war.

We cannot sit back and watch the drug dealers and manufacturers ruin lives. It is up to each and everyone one of us to be an active citizen and Lead SA.

*For more on the Crime Line / Crime Stoppers International Conference visit www.crimestoppers-conference2014.com.




For Immediate  Release

Date: Tuesday, 26 November  2013


The Police have arrested three men aged between 22 and 37 years old respectively, for a spate of house robberies, burglaries and hijackings around Pretoria.

Two of the suspects have been positively linked to the robberies of two homes in Erasmia. One of them being the home of Yusuf Abramjee, Head of Crime Line, last Friday morning.

Abramjee, his wife and son were surprised by the gunmen who entered their home after jumping a wall. The robbers demanded Abramjee’s car and a shootout ensued as they drove off.

Following intense police investigations, a multi-disciplined task team arrested the suspects in Atteridegeville late yesterday afternoon (Monday).

The SAPS team comprised of DPCI,  National Investigation Unit, various cluster tracing units, the Gauteng Flying Squad, reservists and Erasmia SAPS. Investigators from Tracker assisted.

Police recovered three hijacked/stolen vehicles (a Mini Cooper, Nissan 1400 bakkie and an Audi RS4) at the homes of the suspects. Earlier, police seized a Mercedes Benz C class robbed in Laudium and Abramjee’s BMW that was taken at gunpoint.

Two illegal firearms and ammunition were seized yesterday during the police operation. Police confiscated several items either used during robberies or stolen by the suspects.

The breakthrough came after the team followed up various leads following Abramjee’s robbery. This included CCTV footage. The police also received tip-offs from Crime Line and Crime Stop.

Two of the suspects were arrested at the Attlyn Mall in Atteridgeville. Follow up operations led police to the third suspect.

The men are facing charges of armed robbery, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, possession of stolen property and extortion. The extortion charge relates to an attempt to buy a docket from police. Police seized cash from the two suspects.

“We congratulate the team for the hard work and the breakthrough. These suspects are being linked to several cases in the Pretoria area and more charges could follow. We also expecting to make more arrests. This is once again an indication that Policing cannot be done by the Police alone and that we need community participation in it”.Investigations are at a very sensitive stage,” said acting Gauteng Police Commissioner, Lt Gen Lesetja Mothiba.

The suspects are expected to appear in the Atteridgeville Magistrates Court tomorrow.

Abramjee has welcomed the swift police action. “We must now ensure that the suspects are convicted and punished. The police have been most professional in their investigations. I am been told they will oppose bail.

”We at Crime Line also thank the public for passing on information anonymously. It appears this gang is linked to scores of cases and we urge the public to continue blowing the whistle on criminals,” Abramjee added.



Statement issued by the SAPS a/Gauteng Provincial Commissioner

Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba


Brigadier Neville Malila             (082 411 4030)

Provincial Head: Corporate Communication


e-mail: malilan@saps.gov.za