DURBAN - SOME community policing forums in KwaZulu-Natal have raised a lack of resources in the SAPS as a stumbling block that might hamper the success of the Country in Blue campaign, aimed at heightening police visibility in the country.
During the Country in Blue launch on Saturday in Amaoti, outside Durban, Police Minister Bheki Cele called for better collaboration between communities and the police.
Cele said policing had changed – police stations were no longer the centre of policing; he felt that the streets should be the centres of policing.
“More boots and blue lights on the ground not only means police officers are visible at all times to deter criminality, but officers should also be quick to respond to the needs of communities,” Cele said.
The Country in Blue strategy adopted an integrated and collaborative approach, working closely with all security forces, civil society and government agencies.
Through this concept, all operational SAPS vehicles on the road would have their emergency warning blue lights switched on from sunset to sunrise – 6pm to 6am. Additional operational vehicles would also be marked to enhance the police presence.
The concept further aimed to deter all forms of criminality and was embedded in the Community Policing Strategy which mobilises more community patrollers to work closely with SAPS members as force-multipliers.
Cele said by extending their reach through blue-light visibility, the overall goal was to prevent and combat a host of crimes which included all 17 community reported crimes.
These crimes included gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), aggravated robberies such as car hijacking, business and residential robberies commonly known as trio crimes, as well as the tracing of wanted suspects and the proliferation of firearms.
Umesh Singh, Phoenix CPF chairperson, said: “The SAPS need to increase staff and vehicles. As much as the CPF and private security companies can assist, a greater responsibility lies with the police. Without increased resources, this will be a fruitless exercise.”
This concept was introduced years ago, but faded away, he said. “The concept needs to continue beyond the elections. The SAPS needs to prove itself on this beyond a five-year period.”
Mzwandile “Bhono” Ntshangase from the Inanda CPF said the campaign would help, if put into practice.
“Lack of resources will hamper service delivery. The Inanda area is huge, some areas take about an hour to drive to. Police are there, but there are no cars. We need another police station in Inanda for the area to be manageable.”
Ntshangase said most sectors in the area were not developed; police had to leave cars far away and walk long distances while looking for criminals.
National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole said the Country in Blue concept was one of several crime-combating strategies to maximise police visibility.
“We want to be everywhere all the time, so we are going to introduce drone policing in certain areas to ensure we are visible. This is a bid to normalise and stabilise problematic areas or hot spots.”
Sitole said criminals would have nowhere to go.
“Our slogan is squeezing the space for criminals through a declaration of a psychological war, for being everywhere all the time.”
Police also called on all citizens to take an active part in preventing and combating crime by naming and shaming criminals in communities.