Residents of the biggest informal settlement in Tsumeb, Kuvukiland, say criminal activities in the area have decreased significantly in recent months after countless clean-up operations undertaken by the police and members of the neighbourhood watch.
According to local residents, Kuvukiland used to be a hide-out for criminals that would commit crimes in the central business district of the town, as well as residential areas, and then disappear into the residential area until the heat has subsided.
Alfues Haneb, a neighbourhood watch member, said over the last three months they reported fewer criminal activities in the area, only about three of which were serious crimes.
Haneb and others took it upon themselves to help the police to report and investigate crimes within their neighbourhood after cases of rape, assault and murder were frequently reported.
An elderly woman, Edna Garises, who has been living in Kuvukiland for the past three years told of several incidents in which she had been assaulted and robbed off food and water at her shack. She said it was difficult in the past to report crimes, as there is no police station nearby and those living there would conceal the names of the perpetrators.
“Since the network of neighbourhood watch and policemen and women started, criminals are very hesitant to commit crimes, as by now their faces are known,” she said. She further noted that through the network she is able to rapidly report crimes to the police as the neighbourhood watch tend to alert the police very quickly.
“The men are even scared to rape the girls, as the police are alerted very quickly” she said.
Chief Inspector Stephan Nuuyi, who is responsible for community affairs in the Oshikoto Region, said the establishment of community-based policing groups has significantly reduced criminal activity – although he was unable to provide statistics.
Nuuyi said community involvement in fighting crime is crucial, as criminals are often known to the local community. “They know who the criminals are and they definitely help us a lot, because we’re alerted promptly when a crime happens,” Nuuyi said. He noted with satisfaction that networks of community policing have also been formed at surrounding and nearby farms.