Faces on walls to catch suspects

2016-02-23 11:00
The faces of wanted suspects were projected onto community walls last week in the first of what may become a regular event. It is aimed to encourage community members to give information about the whereabouts of the suspects so they can be arrested.

The faces of wanted suspects were projected onto community walls last week in the first of what may become a regular event. It is aimed to encourage community members to give information about the whereabouts of the suspects so they can be arrested. (Supplied)

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The City of Cape Town’s safety and security directorate is not taking crime lying down – to the extent that it is projecting faces of wanted suspects on local walls so that community members can help it make arrests.

This first of its kind, called the wanted road show, was held in Lavender Hill. Representatives visited three courts in the area on Thursday evening. Photographs of the most wanted suspects in the Steenberg policing precinct were broadcast on walls for everyone to see, kicking off with 20 people on the list.

More than 300 people came out to see what the Metro Police officers were doing.

The officers were very pleased that through this effort they managed to arrest four of the people who were on the wanted list in that area. Three were wanted in connection with drug-related cases and the fourth on a charge of malicious intent to damage property.
Metro officers believe more people will be arrested.

They are also offering a R1000 reward to a community member who will give information of the whereabouts of the wanted suspect, and in so doing get him arrested.

The money is paid soon after the arrest – no conviction has to be made. As soon as the arrest is made the community member who gave them the information is entitled to the money.
Following the response from community members Metro Police are in talks to increase the reward to at least R5000 so that a lot more people can come forward with information.
When Metro officers are projecting the faces there is also a number which community members can call to give information. All information is confidential.
When they go out and arrest the suspect the community member who provided the information will get a bank card, which is loaded with money, and a PIN that is not even known by the officer giving the card. The money can be collected at any ATM.

JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security, has no doubt that showing the wanted suspects to the community will work.

“A picture is a powerful tool and this is going to help us arrest the wanted criminals who have been evading the law.
“When we pulled out the generator and started setting up our equipment and the community members saw the faces on the wall, it drew a lot of attention. People supported the idea and we are confident that it will work. When we projected a wanted person, whose alias is Honkies, there was an enormous reaction from the crowd and it showed that they knew that person, so we hope we will get more information on him so that he can be arrested.
“Communities are growing ever more tired of crime and I believe that they will blow the whistle on the bad seeds in their midst, with or without the reward system that we’ve initiated,” he says.

Smith adds that the wanted suspects have committed various large crimes, like murder, attempted murder, rape and house robbery.
“These are no Mickey Mouse suspects. They are wanted for big offences, so we are doing what we can so that they are taken off our streets,” Smith adds.

The road show will be taken to other areas in the city as well. Smith says they want criminals to feel hunted.

“There is a lot of interest and we will be going out to other areas. They must feel that we are looking for them and they shouldn’t be at ease. This is much easier than going door to door and we believe it will work out.”

They have turned to the wanted road show to seek the help of the community as these people who commit the crimes live in the areas.

To make sure that a lot more wanted suspects are arrested Metro Police are also looking into creating a special tracking and tracing team.

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