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Crime can be crushed

Gillian Redmond 8 August 2003
Superintendent Ian Loubser of Parkview Police Station

Superintendent Ian Loubser of Parkview Police Station involves the community in fighting crime.

Get involved with your local police station and make a difference to crime levels in your area, say members of the police service.

Areas with active community policing forums have been shown to have a significant impact on crime reduction. Too often, however, residents and business people are uninterested in participating in local community organisations.

Responding to last week's City Beat article, Joburg Crime at All-time High, Superintendent Ian Loubser, commander of Parkview Police Station, said the many police officers and hundreds of civilian volunteers in Johannesburg who had been involved in efforts to combat serious crime in Johannesburg - "especially during the last year" - were having a significant impact.

In the Parkview policing area, forums had been created as part of the community policing programme to ensure every resident had at least one elected representative to whom information could be conveyed on a regular basis.

These included sector policing forums, a community policing forum, a domestic workers' forum, a restaurant forum, a school forum, and a community safety forum.

"The main task of sector policing, for example, is to address the root causes of crime. Each policing area is divided into smaller sectors, each with its own sector manager. So, if the street lights are out and this is encouraging criminal activity, the sector policing forum will ensure they are fixed," he said. However, more involvement from the community would yield even greater results.

"We are lucky if 80 out of about 113 000 residents pitch up at a public community policing forum meeting," he said. Ronnie Moos, long-standing chairman of the Norwood Orchards Residents' Association (Nora), agreed: "There is total apathy and lack of interest. Out of about 2 500 households, we have less than 200 members and just 40 pitched up at the recent AGM. We battle to put a 10-man committee together. We need people on the residents' association in order to represent the community on the policing forum". The Craighall / Craighall Park Ratepayers' Association, on the other hand, has 470 paid-up members, said chairman John Turpin.

"The association has a deliberate strategy to support the Parkview police and assist where we can. We fund the Domestic Workers' Forum, liaise with victims and ensure street lights are on," he said.

Superintendent Joe Odendaal, Sandringham Police Station commander, said community involvement, "without a doubt", played an important role in keeping crime down in the area. He said Sandringham's 73 police reservists, trained civilians who volunteered their time to help fight crime, did a "brilliant job". The community was also involved in an Adopt-A-Cop programme at schools, a victim empowerment programme and a Drug-Free forum. "A public meeting for just one sector of our policing area is attended by about 150 people," he said.

Captain Prem Naidoo of Yeoville Police Station, said its community policing forum, which had previously floundered due to lack of interest from the community, was now "up and about" with general meetings attended by between 100 and 200 people.

"The street watch and block watch committees are starting to have a positive influence on crime," he concluded.

Home alone ... (or not)
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Know your neighbours.
  • Know the telephone number of your local police station.
  • Contact 10111 immediately should you become aware of strangers on your property.
  • Inform police of any suspicious vehicles or people in your area.
  • Don't let strangers into your home. Always inform your domestic worker when you are expecting plumbers, electricians, etc., and if possible give the name of the company and / or the person who will be visiting the home.
  • Don't allow strangers to use your phone.
  • Don't allow strangers to come to your home to view goods such as vehicles for sale. Rather meet them in a public place.
  • Ask for identification when expecting a stranger such as electricians, telephone technicians and police officers.
  • Make copies of domestic and garden workers' ID books and references.
  • Keep your house locked and don't leave your keys with just any person.
  • Keep gates and security gates locked.
  • Secure windows and install burglar proofing, security systems and secure fencing if possible.
  • Don't build high walls around your property.
  • Keep bushes and plants trimmed down - they're ideal hiding places for criminals.
  • Check that nobody follows you into your property when you get home.

Hi, Jack!
Stay alert, stay alive
  • Always be alert near gates, driveways or garages, look out for suspicious persons, vehicles and loiterers when leaving or arriving home.
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious people when stopping at stop signs or traffic lights, or while driving in city traffic, at night.
  • Drive away quickly if someone suspicious is approaching your stationary vehicle.
  • Always keep your vehicle's doors locked and windows closed and keep valuables out of sight.
  • Don't respond to people indicating there is something wrong with your vehicle while you are driving. Drive to the nearest garage or safe place.
  • If your vehicle breaks down, if possible, drive to a safe place. Use your cell phone to contact emergency services for assistance.
  • Beware of people asking for directions, especially in parking areas.
  • Make sure you are not followed to and from your home or business, and if you are followed, go to the nearest police station or place where there is a lot of people; avoid quiet streets or areas.
  • If you are a victim of a hijacking, try to remember as much detail regarding the hijackers as possible.
  • Remember, your life is more valuable than the most expensive car.

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Copyright © 2003, Rodney Jones, rtjones@amethyst.co.za, Randburg, South Africa (Last updated on 8 August 2003)