Police officers should not be sitting in offices, they should be out in the community, says Grahamstown’s Head of Police Brigadier David Kanuka.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) recently visited Vukani in an exercise to reach out and improve communication with the community. Residents came out in their numbers and gathered in an open field in Vukani to hear what the police had to say to them. Kanuka, Cluster Commander in Grahamstown and head of Grahamstown’s nine police stations, was in attendance accompanied by his management.
The guests were welcomed by Pamela Sandi in the absence of Ward Councillor Thembakazi Seyisi, following which Nomaxabiso Maqungo of the Vukani SAPS introduced the police to the community.
Kanuka addressed incidents of murder, housebreaking, rape and the robbery of Somalian-owned tuckshops by local residents.
Veliswa Royi, chairperson of the Community Police Forum, shared a story of a Hlalani resident who killed his grandmother after she was accused of witchcraft. “Your safety is in your hands,” she said, and introduced Colonel Du Toit of the Hill Street SAPS offices as a point of contact when cases are not attended to at the police station.
She urged people to be vigilant and avoid walking around at 2am during the weekend – a time when the incidence of crime is high. People who did this became the victims of gangsters, she said.
“The hotspots are known by the community and the places that sell drugs are in the community. If you don’t talk about criminals in the community, they are planning to get you. So you need to be united among yourselves.”
Kanuka also spoke about unity between the community and spaza shop owners: the community must work hand in hand, he said.
“Don’t buy stolen property,” Kanuka said. He said sometimes parents accepted items brought to them by their children and in doing so, encouraged their children to go on doing wrong.
He called it “blood money” because it had come through people being traumatised. He humbled himself to the community and asked them for information. He wants to know when the crime is going to happen and when it is already happening. He also said it is only here in Grahamstown that taverns open until six o’clock in the morning.
He also advised the community to have community policing forums. “Self-defence must not come in an overdose, though,” he said. People should not take the law into their own hands and kill others when they do wrong.
Residents pleaded with the ward committee and the street committee to give jobs to those who are from disadvantaged homes in order to reduce crime, rather than choosing family members.
And Kanuka had the last word, emphasising that the police are not meant to sit in offices. “They must come to the community,” he said.