Not every police officer is rude and unpleasant – so said Harare police station management when Endlovini residents raised concerns about the behaviour of police officers during a mini imbizo held in the area last Wednesday.
Residents grabbed the opportunity to express how they are treated by police officers when reporting cases.
They said many police officers were rude and hostile when rendering their services.
Harare police station commander Colonel Thembela Mahlatshana said the area is one of the crime hotspots in their policing precinct and as the station management, together with neighbourhood watch members, they decided to host the mini imbizo.
Colonel Mahlantshana said the imbizo was predominantly attended by women and they wanted to speak to them specifically and allow them to raise their concerns.
He urged residents not to think twice about reporting to his office if they feel they were mistreated at the station or by one of his police officers.
He said through such gatherings they wanted to strengthen their relationship with the residents so that they can unite in fighting crime and also find solutions to the concerns raised.
“We admit that we do make mistakes but we also note that we do fix them.
“We want to create a strong relationship with residents so that we do not open any gaps and spaces for criminals to operate.”
Colonel Mahlantshana said the community must revive the spirit of Ubuntu that says your child is my child.
He said there is no waiting period of 24 hours to report a missing person.
He said the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign was approaching at the end of November.
“We are approaching 16 days of activism. We want to see women and children being protected and in safe spaces.
“I want to appeal to men – it is not okay and to abuse women and children.
“Men are also victims of gender-based violence and we must urge them to report such cases,” he said.
Colonel Mahlatshana said they are not just there to pose in their police uniforms but they are there to provide one of the most critical services in the country.
Resident Busisiwe Majwede said such gatherings were important as they got to know the management of the stations so that they could know who to escalate their problems to.
Ms Majwede said many officers sometimes take advantage because they know that residents don’t not know who they can report to.
However, she challenged the station to ensure that police officers change their behaviour, be kind and more welcoming in rendering their job.
Chairperson of Harare Community Policing Forum, Funeka Soldaat, said rape is high within the Harare policing precinct but another problem is not getting help from police officers after being raped.
Ms Soldaat said when one reports a rape case at Harare police station the case would be transferred to Khayelitsha police station where such cases are handled.
However, she said the biggest challenge then begins because no one tells victims how things are going to unfold and they end up being sent from pillar to post, leaving many victims tired and instead they stop following the case.