Johan Burger talks about crime and policing in South Africa. To fight crime, he contends that the focus should be on its root causes, including, socioeconomic conditions, and the criminal justice system. He advocates the adoption of an integrated strategy that involves governmental and non-governmental departments to address these conditions and political factors. Burger discusses the National Crime Prevention Strategy that was adopted in 1996. The strategy failed due to lack of a shared understanding of crime and policing among politicians, lack of funding, a disregard for socioeconomic conditions, and the inability of police to deliver immediate and visible results on crime prevention. He also describes the various operations under the Community Safety Plan and the National Crime Combating Strategy, which focused on serious and violent crimes, organized crime, crimes against women and children, and improving service delivery. Burger recounts his experience working on the change-management team, which dealt with reforming the police. He talks about police demilitarization and rank restructuring. He describes the confusion and the decline in police morale and discipline that emerged as a result. Burger also challenges community policing. While he acknowledges instances of success, he argues that it is idealistic in terms of its expectations on how the police, in partnership with communities, can fight crime. He identifies sector policing as being more practical and tangible. Though it is still a joint effort between the police and the community, the police resolve only what they can and refer what they are unable to deal with to other government institutions.
At the time of this interview, Johan Burger was a senior lecturer in the Crime and Justice Programme at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria. Before that, he was a lecturer at the Tshwane University of Technology in the department of Safety and Security Management. Burger joined the police service in 1968 and retired in 2004 as an assistant commissioner. Within the police force, he worked as a station commissioner and investigating officer. He was involved in policy and strategy development. Burger became a member of the change-management team that was created in 1993 as South Africa moved toward a new democracy. He later headed Strategy and Policy Development for the South African police service.