3 October 2018

Botswana: Community Policing Responsibility for All

Francistown — In order to defeat crime that is terrorising local neighbourhoods and depriving many people of their belongings and even lives, there is need for people to treat crime as responsibility for everybody.

This responsibility includes reporting crime when it happens, actively playing a role in community policing patrols, knowing one's neighbours and always being on the look-out for people displaying suspicious behaviour and alerting the relevant authorities.

These factors were relayed by the chairperson of Tshwaragano Cluster Community Policing and also the newly elected Selolwe Ward Development (WDC) committee chairperson, Mr Comfort Marcelino in an interview with BOPA.

Tshwaragano cluster community policing committee is made up of Phase 6, Phase 5, BZ, Selolwe and the Old Masunga road.

Mr Marcelino reported that they had seen a significant decline in crime in their area because of their strategies in combating crime and making community policing the responsibility of all community members.

"Our duty is to silently collect crime-related information and hand it to the relevant authorities who are our stakeholder partners like Directorate of Intelligence Services, Special Support Group, Immigration office and Bye-Law. They are the ones who determine what action to be taken thereafter as we do not have the power to arrest or charge perpetrators. However, we are under the supervision of Criminal Investigation Department" Mr Marcelino said.

This silent reporting of crime by his committee and the community, he noted, had borne fruit as there have been significant arrests in their area, with some of those crimes included assault, stealing from person.

He applauded some members of the community for always remaining vigilant to these atrocities, but expressed concern about the high number of illegal immigrants living in the cluster, whom he said played a part in most of the reported crimes.

Mr Marcelino blamed the locals, who harbour the illegal aliens and give them safe spaces in their homes and at times hiding them from arrests.

"While it is easy to apprehend a local person when they commit a crime, the same cannot be said for illegal immigrants as they can cross to their countries after committing crime, never to be seen again.

He said they have also ensured that all open spaces in the community are de-bushed and that all street lights are functional.

"The street lights in our areas are mostly functioning and with the addition of tower lights like the one at the Phase 5 cemetery, we are confident we will continue seeing a decline in crime in our area," he said.

He expressed concern that there were some individuals who steal from nearby areas use the cemetery at Phase 5 as a getaway.

Mr Marcelino said they had long notified council to completely fence the cemetery with durable fencing materials to prevent such activities, but to no avail.

He commended the Phase 5 satellite police station for always responding to emergency calls promptly, despite their shortage of transport, adding that because of their presence, people were using the road that passes in front of Phase 5 clinic, even at the night, which he said was suicidal before.

Mr Marcelino took a swipe at the community leadership such as councillors and WDCs committees for showing reluctance in working with the committee to combat crime, but praised Dikgosi for always engaging them on matters of keeping the community safe.

Lastly, he advised the community members to know one another and have one another's contact numbers so as to alert each other when suspicious events occur.

He also advised people against leaving dangerous objects such as axes, knives and shovels outside at night, cautioning that those objects can be used by criminals when launching attacks.

Source : BOPA

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