The ministry of police will this month commence a nation-wide programme of follow up visits with communities which we interacted with over the past few months, aimed at monitoring whether all complaints have been addressed. This was announced by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa today during a community participation event held at the Bilanyoni Community Hall, in Paulpietersburg in KwaZulu-Natal.
Bilanyoni is one of the rural settlements that has been identified as a hotspot and problematic with the reporting of crime, 23% of all crime reported at the Paulpietersburg police station, comes from this area. Bilanyoni has a satellite station and as one of the forthright complaints that the community put before the Minister, is a need to build a fully-fledged police station.
"We have been crisscrossing various areas around the country interacting directly with different communities to encourage their involvement in the fight against crime. More importantly our visits have assisted us to understand some of their frustrations when it comes to issues of safety. During such visits, we brought along the provincial management as well as various cluster commanders precisely to ensure that as the issues were raised, immediate responses must be provided so that at the end of the day, there is accountability and responsibility."
"We undertake such programmes so that there should not be a gap between police and communities. By creating any such gap, we would be allowing criminals to occupy that space and we cannot allow that situation. We are encouraged to hear of good progress registered in areas we have visited. We still remain concerned that it should not take a Minister to visit and interact with a community first, that service delivery must occur.
Police stations must not be refurbished or victims of crimes treated with courtesy because we are about to visit that particular area. When it comes to safety of our communities, police must be responsive on time, on an on-going basis, we do not need short cuts," stated the Minister.
Some of the recent serious crimes that have been experienced in this area include: six murders, two attempted murders, eight rapes and sexual offended. There were also forty nine cases of housebreaking and twenty three cases of stock theft. Arrests have been made in most of the cases. "While as the police leadership we welcome any arrest of these perpetrators we want police to secure convictions.
They can secure convictions if detectives are well-trained; if communities do not shield criminals because we know that some of the criminals live here in Bilanyoni. I urge the police to be tough on these scoundrels particularly those who rape women, children and the elderly, show no mercy on these cowards."
Coupled with these follow-up visits will be unannounced visits to police stations to monitor service delivery and the Minister has assured that actions will be taken against officers who do not perform. "We cannot be at each and every police station or community and that is why members of the community must also play active roles in helping police fight crime.
You must not be observers sitting on the side-lines but must become part of community policing forums. And in fact even the recent crime statistics indicate that in areas where we have effective community policing forums, crime has gone down."
Some of the notable challenges in terms of policing the Bilanyoni, Paulpietersburg and surrounding areas are that the terrains are mountainous, dual and very bad roads which is difficult to use particularly during rainy seasons. The Minister was informed that as a result, the locals stations require more 4x4 vehicles to reach these areas.
The provincial police management team, under Lieutenant General Mmamonye Ngobeni who also addressed the community, undertook to provide the cluster with the required resources, including the vehicles, on-going training to address all the concerns and complaints raised at the meeting.