PMB well guarded

2014-12-03 00:00

OFFICIAL police figures reveal that ­Pietermaritzburg has the highest ­concentration of officers to population in KwaZulu-Natal, something that ­community crime activists have lauded.

But with historically violent precincts like Richmond being under-policed, ­experts warned that understaffing could lead to unrest and bedlam.

According to the figures released in Parliament this week, Pietermaritzburg, Hilton, Howick and Mountain Rise ­precincts all have more than the ­provincial average number of police ­officers per population (184 officers per 100 000 people).

Pietermaritzburg Community ­Policing Forum chairperson Claire Crawley said she hoped that it was the diligent reporting of crime that had paid dividends in the form of additional ­officers being deployed.

“We are geographically placed in an area with a high population ­concentration and a high incidence of crime. We have certain hotspots that we have identified and now we just need to work on them.

“I have always been trying to advocate that people should report crime so that we can get the powers that be in police management to recognise and assign more police officers to the areas that need them. I am hoping that that is what has happened here,” Crawley said.

She added that police remained largely beset by crippling resource shortages.

“I don’t think simply having more ­policemen than anywhere else is enough when you consider that they do not have enough resources to do their jobs; the shortage of police vehicles is one ­example,” she said.

“We constantly deal with an influx of people in the city and we need the­­ ­resources to deal with the inherent spike in crime that comes with it.”

On the other end of the curve was Richmond, a traditional hotbed of ­political violence, crime and service ­delivery unrest. KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas said Richmond should never be under-policed.

“As is well known, it has historically been subject to high levels of violence and few of the perpetrators have been ­adequately dealt with by the criminal ­justice system. There has been a great deal of criminal and protest action ­recently, such as the arson attack on ­municipal buildings,” she said.

“The police station also serves rural areas around the town, including the farming community. There can be no ­excuse for not maintaining adequate police numbers if the area is to be properly policed and rapid response to crimes in the rural surrounding areas maintained.

“The problem is that it is not just about numbers; it is also about efficient deployment, which often seems lacking,” she said.

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za

082 073 8565

Ensure Jeff’s cell number is printed in bold, like the e-mail address. ZA

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