Solutions to crime must come from communities

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pretoria -Strategies to deal with crime must come from the people, believes Gauteng's new Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Mzwandile Petros.

"Criminals come from the communities we live in and are ultimately someone's brother, sister or friend. If we want solutions we have to engage the community. That has to be the cornerstone of our strategy," said Lieutenant General Petros, addressing the media in Johannesburg on Friday.

He explained that because the best crime fighting strategies would come from robust engagement with communities and other stakeholders and he had spent his first week on the job meeting communities in Gauteng and policemen and women on the street.

Lieutenant General Petros, formerly the Western Cape Police Commissioner for seven years, said emphasis would be placed on visible policing in the province. A significant police presence is a deterrent to crime.

The absence of police on the roads and in communities provides opportunities for crimes to be committed, he noted.

An initiative to improve police's response time will also be embarked on. Police vehicles in the different sectors will be allocated a cellphone and that cellphone number then displayed on the vehicle. Instead of dialing the emergency number 10111 to get in touch with police, Gauteng residents can call the cellphone number and be directly put in touch with police officers in their sector.

The commissioner singled out the limited resources that police stations had to make do with as a challenge to police's crime fighting efforts. The situation at some police stations was heartbreaking, said Lieutenant General Petros, adding that resources should follow the problem.

Gauteng Community Safety MEC Khabisi Mosunkutu also acknowledged that there was a mismatch of resources which was a serious problem.

He said there were a number of police stations in informal settlements that lacked the necessary resources to fight crime while police stations in other areas were fully resourced.

The MEC also noted the importance of partnerships in combating crime, adding that the commissioner had the full support of the people of Gauteng, police and councillors.