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The only way residents can win the war against crime is by repairing and strengthening their relationship with the police, Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Public Safety Councillor Sello Lemao told a public meeting at the East Bank Community Hall in Alexandra on Sunday 16 November.

“The police can’t work effectively if they don’t know about the crime-producing elements in your area. The safety of our people is a serious matter, that’s why the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Provincial Government have called this meeting – so you can tell the government what kind of service you want,” MMC Lemao said.

The meeting was attended by, among others, Gauteng Police Commissioner Major-General Phumzo Gela, Alexandra Police Station Commander Brigadier David Ngcobo and Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar.

The MMC said the City had initiated a community safety forum to work with the existing community policing forums, registered taverners and the police to help communities reclaim their streets. “For all of us to win the war against crime, we have to work with the police. You know your areas, you know what your needs are. You know what resources are needed on the ground. Basically, you call the shots,” MMC Lemao said.

Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane told the residents – who included members of community policing forums from Bramley, Buccleuch, Marlboro, East Bank and Alexandra – that their inputs would form part of the new provincial crime-fighting strategy. “The province is in the process of reengineering its crime-fighting strategy – the Gauteng Safety Strategy. Once completed, we hope it will influence the National Safety Strategy. Police alone cannot win the battle against crime but working closely with members of the community, they can make great strides in rooting out criminal elements,” MEC Nkosi-Malobane said.

She reminded residents about Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s pledge in his State of the Province address to stamp out crime – especially against women and children – through the establishment of a social movement against crime. But MEC Nkosi-Malobane said residents have lost confidence in the police, who seem to be working with criminals.

“A drug lord threatened my family, telling it that I had told the police he sells drugs. How did he find out I told the police?”

The MEC urged police management to improve efficiencies and use existing resources effectively in the fight against the crime scourge. “Private security companies have the same or even lesser resources but they are the first to respond to a crime scene. I once went to the Alexandra Police Station and found police officials milling outside at night while scores of our people were inside waiting to get help. We need good, visible and responsive policing that is not reactive to deal with crime. Both residents and the police must play their part to ensure a safer city, province and country for all our people,” the MEC said.

Residents also voiced their dissatisfaction at the poor police service. Some complained of tribalism at the police station, while others said they were sent from pillar to post when they needed police help.

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