Primedia’s Anti-Crime Campaign: Blowing The Whistle On Crime

Thursday, 7 June, 2007

Primedia today announced the launch of a multi-million rand national anti-crime campaign – one of the largest private initiatives of its kind in the world.

As of today, a data centre started operating at Primedia Place, Johannesburg, where the public can blow the whistle on criminals. The centre is manned by data capturers who have received extensive training from the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Members of the public can SMS 32211 (at a cost of R1 each), 24 hours a day with any tip-offs about crime or criminals. Primedia has also established a website, www.crimeline.co.za.

The anti-crime campaign follows on the success of last year’s pilot project run by Talk Radio 702, where the station received hundreds of SMS’s about drug-dealers and peddlers. Gauteng Police Commissioner, Perumal Naidoo, assured 702 and its listeners that his men and women in blue would act on the SMSs and the result was dozens of arrests and the seizure of drugs and illegal arms.

The operation was so successful that the board of Primedia decided to explore other ways of contributing positively to the fight against crime, but on an even larger scale. After months of discussions with the authorities, they came up with a plan of action – a crime campaign based on the Crimestoppers International system.

Crime Stoppers began in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in September 1976. It is a partnership between the community, the media and law enforcement agencies and was designed to combat crime and keep residents safe. Today there are about 1 200 Crime Stoppers programmes across the globe that use information provided by the community to help solve crimes.

"Crime Stop is already being operated within the SAPS. However, there are always individuals who, for some or other reason, have concerns about reporting criminal activity directly to a law enforcement agency," said Yusuf Abramjee, Group Head of News and Talk Programming at Primedia Broadcasting and Primedia Anti-Crime Project Co-ordinator.

“Based on our feedback, the view is that the public does not have an independent platform which they are comfortable with to blow the whistle. This is where we see Primedia Limited playing a vital role. We want to use our leading media assets and our national reach to make a difference.”

Abramjee said the campaign promises no comebacks. “We don’t want your name or address unless you volunteer to give it to us and there is no need for any statements or court appearances. All we want is information about criminals so that the police can act on it. This is not an emergency line and if you see a crime taking place, or are a victim of crime, you must still call 10111 or your nearest police station. However, it breaks the barriers by giving people the opportunity to provide information without directly speaking to the police.”

He added that the campaign’s core message is simple. Are you suspicious about your neighbours, relatives or friends? Do you suspect they are involved in crime? If you have any information about criminals – be they murderers, rapists, robbers, hijackers, burglars, drug dealers, gangsters, child abusers, fraudsters, smash and grabbers or petty criminals – let Primedia know and they will ask the police to act.

All information Primedia receives via the data base and website will be passed on to the police on a real-time basis. They in turn have promised to act on that information immediately, as well as report back regularly on successful arrests. From time to time, the campaign will also zoom in on wanted criminals and focus on certain priority crimes and cases, depending on where the police’s need for information is.

Primedia – the holding company for 94.7 Highveld Stereo, Talk Radio 702, 567 Cape Talk, 94.5 Kfm, iAfrica.com, Ster-Kinekor and CineMARK, among others – will be investing R50-million in advertising/editorial space over the next year for this campaign.

“Primedia have a proud track record of community social investment,” said William Kirsh, CEO of Primedia Limited. “In this past financial year alone, the Primedia Group has contributed in excess of R40-million towards community social investment. For this initiative, we pledge to contribute an additional R50-million of media value, which will be used to create the media awareness for how South Africans can all be proactive to beat the scourge of crime.

“While this is a significant financial contribution, we want to be courageous and stretch ourselves so that we can feel that we have done all in our power to make South Africa a safer place for all. We commit that we will put our media assets to good use and will continue to invest in the fight against crime. This is one legacy that Primedia is prepared to leave for our children – their right to safety and their right to childhood innocence.”

Primedia’s anti-crime campaign is backed by the full support of the Minister for Safety and Security, Charles Nqakula, and the National Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, and encourages the public to report crime anonymously if necessary, without fear of victimisation or reprisals.

“We are 100% committed to this anti-crime initiative and 100% ready to start acting on the crime-related information, which will be passed on through Primedia channels,” said Commissioner Selebi. “We call on members of the community to respond to this campaign with the same enthusiasm with which it was conceptualised and activated by Primedia and the SAPS. We are of the view that this campaign will generate tremendous goodwill. One criminal arrested means one criminal off our streets.”

For media queries contact Natasha Wadvalla, public relations manager of Primedia Broadcasting, on (011) 506-3541, or 084 374 3467, or e-mail natashaw@primedia.co.za.

For queries relating to the SAPS, contact SAPS Director Sally de Beer at 082 779 8658.