THE people of Mthatha are sick of crime.The Daily Dispatch reported on Wednesday (“Mthatha unites to fight crime”) that rampant criminal activity in the town resulted in a decision by town bosses to form a united front and to tackle the problem head-on in an effort to restore the confidence of the public.
Crime is costing Mthatha dearly – visitors simply drive through, too scared to stop in case they are targeted. Of course this is a problem which is not unique to the Eastern Cape town as perusal of crime statistics indicates that all towns and cities are fighting the same battle.
During a Komani community policing forum meeting, which was attended by the police, residents were urged to become involved in policing forums. The Rep reported (“Concern over crime spike” October 14) that the message was simple: Everyone has to play a role in fighting crime.
But what exactly does that mean for the ordinary man on the street? Partly it means not being part of the problem and that means not buying stolen goods, not covering up for or hiding criminals, not drinking while underage, not using drugs and not supporting bootlegging in its various forms.
It also requires a pro-active stance by communities which requires bravery, commitment to the battle and selflessness. It requires courage to stand up for what is right and to denounce that which is wrong. This can be done in various ways – by sharing information with the police and by supporting anti-crime initiatives, by becoming involved in structures like community watches and neighbourhood forums and by keeping an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighbourhood.
While the price seems high, the reality is that unless criminals feel unsafe in a town, they will continue to operate and will indeed escalate their operations. A town where people are looking out for one another and are cooperating with the police in fighting crime, will reap the dividends.
In return, the police need to be worthy of the public’s trust and confidence. If we can make that happen, we might not beat crime, but we could deal it a massive blow.