The scourge of crime must be rooted out and communities must take a stand against it and work with law enforcement agencies to ensure they did not harbour criminals.
That was the message delivered to a group of Harare residents when the South African Polices Services (SAPS), South African National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency (SANCA), Government Communications and Information System (GCIS) and ward councillor Anele Gabuza held a crime summit, at Harare library, on Thursday September 14.
Residents were told to keep police officers accountable and report any wrongdoings by police.
Housebreaking, alcohol and drug abuse, and business robbery were identified as some of the main problems facing Harare.
Residents said they wanted police to be visible and called for neighbourhood watch members to be equipped with skills to diffuse violence and to protect themselves.
Residents claimed that police took long to respond to crime, giving criminals enough time to commit a crime and escape.
They argued that they wanted police to join neighbourhood watch members when they patrolled, to strengthen their efforts.
Mr Gabuza said the summit gave people the opportunity to raise issues pertaining to crime and to strengthen the relationship between SAPS and residents.
He said the summit provided them with an opportunity to understand how police functioned and to end the blame game.
He said he was deeply concerned about the high usage of drugs by young people in the area.
“We want to live in a drug- and alcohol-free community.
“We want our children to grow up in a society that is made of good law-abiding citizens.
“We want to rewrite history and build a better society. Potentially investors should feel free to invest in our communities to make it a better place to live in,” he said.
Harare police spokesperson, Captain Nosiphiwo Mntengwana, said it was important for the community to work hand in hand with the police.
She said the community often blamed police officers but did not understand their working conditions. Captain Mntengwana said there were many factors that contributed to delayed police response, adding that Harare police station served a number of areas.
She said they were doing the best they could to render the best quality service to the people.
While she pointed out that many residents knew where criminals lived or hid out, but did not inform police, she praised the neighbourhood watch members, who she said were making a valuable contribution to the fight against crime.
Sanca representative, Mnoneleli Ndlangalavu, said they advised parents about the tell-tale signs of drug use. He said peer pressure, poverty and stress often drove young people to experiment with drugs.