Owing to criminal activities becoming more sophisticated, one of the strategies the Namibian Police have adopted is community policing which involves partnering with community members to identify and pro-actively tackle criminal activities.
Two such community policing initiatives are the Choto and Cowboy neighbourhood watch groups, which are found in two of the most populated informal settlements in Katima Mulilo. The two settlements also frequently report some of the most heinous crimes such as murder, rape, theft and assault.
Handing over identification cards to volunteers of the two neighbourhood watch groups, the Zambezi Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Boniface Mukendwa, noted that the identification cards, apart from identifying the volunteers during their operations, seek to cement the already commendable work being done by the volunteers.
“It is a recognition from the Namibian Police to enable you to conduct your street patrols and neighbourhood visits to curb housebreaking, theft, domestic violence and rape to mention but a few,” said Mukendwa.
Mukendwa said partnerships were imperative as part of an overall goal of eradicating crime in the country.
“There’s a need for partnership between the police, other law enforcement agencies, the community like the active groups of Choto and Cowboy, councillors, traditional authorities, churches and others to combat crime as the police cannot do it alone,” said the regional police commander.
He cautioned volunteers to desist from aiding or collaborating with criminals as doing so would be counterproductive and detrimental to the efforts of the police.
“These cards should be part of solutions to reduce crime and not be used as tools to promote crime by collaborating with criminals, misleading your colleagues and law enforcement officials or personally committing any form of crime,” warned the regional police commander.
Mukendwa, who implored volunteers not to despair because of a lack of incentives for their efforts, equally appealed to community members to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities during the festive season.
“We shall continue giving technical support to these committees and capacitate them to perform their tasks effectively. I urge the business community to assist financially to enable them to acquire the necessary equipment and gear to enhance their morale,” urged Mukendwa.
The over 50 volunteers of the two settlements of Choto and Cowboy complained of a lack of transport and equipment as some of the hurdles they face in combating crime in their areas.
However, the Zambezi Regional Police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Kisco Sitali, said remarkable success has been recorded since the inception of neighbourhood watch groups in 2007. “We have seen improvements since community policing was introduced. If we unite in combating crime, criminals will not have a hiding place. This is the cheaper way of preventing crime as crime is fought from a grass-roots level and therefore the state reduces its costs,” said Sitali.