Positive strategies to fight crime

2008-09-11 00:00

The Safe City campaign is regularly featured in Echo. I agree that we all need to join hands and fight crime but to do so effectively we need positive strategies.

Most of the time “whistle-blowers” prefer to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. I suggest that a toll free cellphone number be provided as one may want to report a crime but have no airtime (unless the number 083 767 7233 is toll free).

Reporting crime verbally would be better as people do not want their identity to be known and they know that they can be traced when sending an SMS as their number will appear on the receiver’s side.

There are other points which make the use of cellphone SMSes ineffective.

• Limited space which cannot take the full message and give full information like the description of the incident, when and where it is happening and who is involved as stated in the Safe City advert.

• To know the names of people involved does not seem practical as most of these incidents take place at night and one cannot shout and ask “who are you?” or “can you provide me with your names?”. The criminal may shoot the witness.

With regards to drunk and negligent driving one could phone a toll-free number and provide the registration number of the vehicle but to be identified is still a problem because the informant will be required to testify in court against the suspect and give details of the alleged offence. What happens to the informant if the magistrate withdraws charges on the basis of “insufficient evidence”? Who will protect the informant against the repercussions that may follow?

I agree that we need to work together in fighting crime as it is affecting everyone. My only son was murdered four years ago and to date no one has been arrested and charged because of “insufficient evidence”. I suggest that more cameras be installed in townships and suburbs, as well as in town.

The effectiveness of the toll-free crime stop number 10111 should be checked as I have phoned it many times without joy.

I am a member of the Community Policing Forum operating within the Edendale area. Three years ago the Plessislaer police officers, who were part of the forum, promised to close the shebeens which are a major source of drugs. This promise never materialised and instead the shebeens multiplied dramatically to the extent that now drugs have entered schools. Teachers are faced with a problem of teaching drug users who are unruly and uncontrollable, and as a result many teachers are leaving the profession.

What kind of new South Africa are we heading for? Will Jacob Zuma be able to sort out this mess? Surely he needs to lead people who are responsible with positive vision and who do not behave like hooligans.

Let us have positive strategies to fight crime, which is destroying our beautiful country, but let us also be practical with a team of police who do not turn around and join the drug dealers.

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