Status quo shift needed for Durban policing

2020-01-10 14:50
Durban's beaches in December are a popular attraction.

Durban's beaches in December are a popular attraction. (Tebogo Letsie, City Press)

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With safety and security permeating the Durban central precinct atmosphere during the 2019 festive season it made eThekwini enjoyable and exemplary.

The multi-pronged approach to policing saw departments roll up their sleeves and come together to combat any and all forms of lawlessness. It was easy to spot a variety of state departments like the national and local police service, public-private security partnerships and municipal safer cities, security management and law enforcement units.

Policing personnel were on foot, response-time quick in vehicles, splashing through the ocean on speedboats, high on horseback, bicycles and motorbikes and supported by eyes in the sky in the form of police choppers. It made visitors and locals feel at ease without having to be on guard constantly, cautious and looking over their shoulders.

Every nook and cranny of the city was policed. At every minute of the day and night, on every day of the holiday season, would police and law enforcement officials be visible at intersections, robots, on all roads and amongst buildings, office and residential areas, along walkways, pathways and notorious areas within central Durban, even walking about in and around recreational areas where merrymakers settle on the beach sand and lawn areas of the park.

More than their physical presence, the police and all officials were vibrant and vigorous. They were awake and aware. They were polite and professional. They were rapid and responsive. It felt like a new police force. Effort and energy were injected into security officials who used to be seen as lazy and lackadaisical.

The entire central area was painted white with dashes of light and dark blue and dotted with florescent neon yellow and a touch of amber and red.

The city council’s cars are white with the council’s light and dark blue logo, the city’s police force uniform is made up of dark and light blue colours as well as white, all policing and council officials and security service providers were identifiable in florescent neon reflective jackets or vests.

Emergency vehicles were conspicuous with blue, amber and red lights while emblazoned with dark blue and florescent neon yellow branding set against a white vehicle. There were also many unmarked police vehicles.

During the festive season the business of the day was law and order. One felt safe and secure. One usually never feels this way in Durban’s central areas, more especially during the festive season when crime - petty and untoward - peaks.

The police force, planning officials, management and Durban’s festive season management committee got it right. Hats off to the SAPS, Durban Metro Police, eThekwini Safer Cities and Security Management units and all law enforcement agencies.

The question is, why can it not be like this all the time, each and every day of the year?

The city has the clout, capability, manpower, resources, ability and authority to keep Durban central like this all year round. The government’s safety, security, policing and law enforcement decision makers must resolve to keep Durban like this all year round. A multi-agency approach is required with all hands to be placed firmly on deck.

It will sow the seeds of faith in the locals living in the city, as well as in government and political office bearers. It will exponentially grow tourism and see the arrival of visitors all year round than just boosting tourism during the peak festive season.

There will be a huge boom in the city’s economy, it will thrive - squashing unemployment and poverty. Business, the state and citizens will be at their happiest. The tide of Durban central's happiness index will permanently change from doom and gloom to joy and jubilation.

For eThekwini's vision of being Africa's most caring and liveable city by 2030 to be realised, it must make its festive season policing plan the normal policing practice in the city.

Vedhan Singh

Member of various peace and security forums at the African Union and United Nations, but writes in his personal capacity

Durban

Read more on:    durban  |  safety
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