By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK City Police Chief Abraham Kanime has promised his force will be on high alert throughout the city during the festive season in an effort to clamp down on the usual upsurge in criminal activities. In a recent interview, Kanime said the City Police would intensify its operations in order to ensure the safety and security of residents and visitors to Windhoek. “It is our responsibility to make sure people enjoy peace and safety in the city during the festive season, and we will be mobilising our members to be on high alert,” Kanime announced. The second intake of new recruits to the City Police just completed their training at the end of November and will be deployed just in time to provide reinforcements to the force over Christmas. According to Kanime, people can expect to see more foot and vehicle patrols as well as more consultation between the City Police and members of the public. The aim of the consultations with the public is for the City Police to gain a clearer idea of what the public expects from the force and what their concerns are. He warned that criminals would be intensifying their activities because they want to have money to enjoy over the festive season. The main crimes the City Police will be targeting include housebreaking because many people leave their houses unattended during the holiday period. Theft at ATMs, Kanime said, is also becoming a concern because people do not take the necessary precautions when withdrawing money. “People just don’t take the tips given by law enforcement and the banks seriously,” he lamented. Kanime said he did not believe recent newspaper reports that crooks place a special device inside ATM card slots that grab hold of people’s bankcards. The reality, he said, is that the con artists just use very clever tactics to swap people’s cards. They always operate in pairs, one of whom often might be a woman. According to Kanime, the police have profiles of syndicates involved in different types of crime. The police have arrested most members of the syndicates, but in most cases prosecutions fail because victims fail to give proper identification, he said. He gave an example of one incident where a con artist defrauded a victim at an ATM. Plainclothes policemen who observed the crime from a distance followed the fraudster to another ATM immediately afterwards, where he was obviously hoping to strike a second victim. When the police arrested the thief, they were unable to prosecute because the victim was unable to identify the perpetrator even though the incident only took place minutes earlier. Kanime expressed unhappiness with the court system, which he said was frustrating the work of police officers with their paying more attention to the rights of the suspect than of the victim. If a person is in the dead of night miles from his own home with bolt-cutters in his hands, obviously loitering with intent, the courts would release him on N$200 bail. “While this person is out on bail, he commits several other crimes. They don’t fear the police because they know the courts will release them,” Kanime said. Taxi-drivers transporting criminals to places they are targeting has become a specialised trade and some drivers have as many as three different cases pending against them for the same offence. Taxis involved in this activity use false registration number plates, or drive around late at night in suburbs where they have no valid reason to be with no number plates at all. “It would be good if we could detain them for further investigation, but we can’t without enough evidence,” Kanime explained. The police do not even have the right to take the fingerprints of these taxi drivers, and can only fine them for infringing traffic regulations. “We can’t even revoke the taxi licence because the licence belongs to the owner of the taxi, not the driver. Worst of all, they don’t forfeit the vehicle even in cases of armed robbery,” he said with obvious frustration.
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