25 January 2013

Namibia: Towards a Crime-Free Windhoek

CRIME has never been a welcome activity in any community.

In Dolam, a township in Windhoek's Katutura location, community members have joined hands with the City Police to help prevent crime in the area.

Dolam is reportedly one of the areas in Windhoek with the highest crime rate.

"Enough is enough. Every weekend we are burying our loved ones in this area as a result of having been stabbed or raped to death. People are no longer dying of natural causes but because of crime-related activities," said Dolam resident Petty Goses.

The community of Dolam is just one of the many in Windhoek collaborating with the City Police in its efforts to curb crime in the capital city. The City Police say they are working towards ensuring a crime-free Windhoek this year, and as Senior Superintendent Gerry Shikesho explains, "aggressive measures are in place to ensure that criminals are removed from society".

"It should be clear that 2013 will see intensified operations from the service that will see all four operational pillars fully functional. This means intensified operations from intelligence-led policing such as sting operations and entrapment, community policing to ensure a closer and healthy relationship with the community, increased zonal patrolling both in the riverbeds as well as in vehicles on the roads in various zones, as well as the use of modern technology to ensure that Windhoek is safe," Shikesho said.

Just last week, the City Police arrested several criminals robbing people in front of Natis while impersonating Natis officials, as well as a City Police superintendent for his alleged involvement in corrupt activities.

Shikesho attributes the success of these arrests to the intelligence-led policing method.

"Windhoek has no place for you if you want to commit any type of crime. We had enough time to study your methods and tactics. We know who you are and where you stay. We are following a systematic approach and it's only a matter of time. We are coming for you," Shikesho warned.

He added that the City Police has set up patrols everywhere and cautioned criminals to keep in mind that their every move is monitored.

"Don't just wait to spot us in City Police vehicles or in uniform, some of our officers do not walk around in uniform or drive around in City Police cars, they look just like civilians," he said.

To help in their efforts to respond swiftly to crimine in the many townships and neighborhoods in Windhoek, the City Police have divided the capital city into 19 zones.

"For each zone, there are City Police officials assigned whom community members can contact to report criminal activities in their area. Police officials assigned to zones are also responsible for frequently patrolling their zones for any criminal activities.

That is why we are busy engaging communities to work together with City Police officials assigned to their zones to make the reporting of criminal activities easier, which in turn will enable us to catch the culprits on the spot," Shikesho said.

He added that it was time every citizen played a pivotal role in making their own neighborhoods safe.

"Gone are those days when the police were left alone to prevent crime. We are going to solve this problem together as citizens of this country. We are going to sit together and come up with mechanisms to curb crime," Shikesho said this week while addressing Dolam community members. As a result, the City Police encouraged Windhoek community members to create working groups that would be responsible for identifying and reporting criminal activities in such townships, and to give input on how they think crime can be prevented in their townships and neighborhoods.

"As people living in these townships and as community members, we need to become security conscious. It's our lives and properties at stake, but it's also the lives of our children that we want to secure. Crime is happening in our communities and we should all play a role in stopping such crimes.

It is up to us to tackle crime in our communities," Shikesho said at the Dolam meeting.

He warned criminals not to shoot at the City Police. "We are going to respond appropriately. We are not going to allow City Police officers to be shot at."

Shikesho reminded criminals of the adage that 'crime does not pay', adding that as the City Police, "we do not believe in talking, we believe in doing."

Asked how he feels about being part of the crime prevention process in his area, Dolam resident David Gao-eiseb said: "I feel in charge and I'm proud to be a part of this crime-prevention initiative. I see a lot of bad things happening in Dolam and I want crime abolished."

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