Youth Day, June 16, was a unique day for the Lingelethu police as the streets of Town Two and surrounds were kept safe by an all uniformed team of officers including neighbourhood watch and Community Policing Forum (CPF) members.
Instead of sitting in the office or commemorating the public holiday at home, police embarked on a crime-prevention programme in hot spot areas last Wednesday.
The men in blue, along with the CPF and neighbourhood watches, had undertaken an outreach campaign in an effort to bridge the divides which have turned the townships into a battleground plagued by violence and extortion.
Armed with flyers and pamphlets that warned the community that extortion, fraud and gender-based abuse were criminal offences, the group visited a Khayelitsha shopping centre. Residents were also warned about fraud and theft at ATMs.
Lingelethu police spokesperson Sergeant Xoliswa Nyalambisa said the campaign was aimed at the shop owners, business people and ordinary people, who were often easy targets for fraudsters.
“Crime in Khayelitsha has increased tremendously and it worries us as police. We then decided that we must go around to empower our people with knowledge. We also urge them to work with us. There have been reports of extortion, fraud and other crimes but we are saying to people we are all in this together. Let us work together if we want to conquer crime,” she said.
She added that the crime awareness would continue and called on the community to be part of it.
Town Two CPF chairman Siphiwo Sopili welcomed the campaign but complained about the lack of equipment for the CPF to be able to perform its duties well.
He said there were challenges within the organisation and appealed for a donation of a radio so that they had a direct link with the police. “Crime is high in this area,” he said, highlighting shootings and stabbings as being major problems in the area.
“We also have a challenge of alcohol and drugs that lead to things like cable theft,“ he said.
“If we can get radios, our work can be a bit easy. We can easily call the police when there is a crime scene,” he said.
The presence of police and CPF members around these hot spots was also welcomed by young people who hosted games on the day.
Lumka Valashiya said the visibility had had a positive impact and that the community was very appreciative.
She however complained about the lack of employment of young people, which she felt was at the root of crime because youngsters who had nothing to do, often resorted to crime.
“Unemployment and free education is still a challenge to us. At least there must be resources provided to young people. Poverty is a problem hence many resort to crimes,” she said.