Inner city traffic snarled, myriads of blue lights flashed and rows upon rows of blue-uniformed police massed on the Grand Parade on Friday morning. Capetonians could have been forgiven for thinking a televised bust of an international crime syndicate was taking place, but it was police commissioner Bheki Cele – who has a reputation as a bit of a showman – unveiling the national festive season crime-fighting campaign.
Speaking at the official launch attended by over 1 000 civilians, and almost as many police, Cele said part of the plan was that no-one in the police force would be allowed to take leave during this festive season.
Cele spoke between entertainment such as cultural dance groups, singers, an SAPS band and parade and crime fighting demonstrations, announcing the graduation of 200 new police officers who would join the festive season crime fighting campaign in the Western Cape, along with 53 new police cars.
With crime incidents increasing by nine percent over the festive season, he said similar launches, with a parade of new graduates and the unveiling of new cars, was set to take in Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape,
He said police would be focussing on violent crimes such as aggravated robbery, house and business robberies, cash-in-transit heists, vehicle hijackings and attacks on ATMs, murder and rape.
Although the campaign is led by the police, he said its success required a partnership between NGO’s, businesses, churches and communities, however, he did not elaborate on how these partnerships were structured.
To coincide with the national launch, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa officially opened the “world-class” Western Cape Provincial Command Centre just off Harrington Street.
Billed as the nerve centre for the province, it is to house 68 police detectives, be linked to CCTV cameras recording footage at schools, ATMS, shopping malls, main roads and highways, and would receive footage from cameras mounted on 26 police cars deployed throughout the province.
The centre also had a gym so police personnel had no excuse for not being fit.
“The centre will enable a more proactive and reactive response by our intelligence for prioritised crime, especially in the Western Cape where narcotics are still a major problem,” said Mthethwa.
He said he was confident the centre also allow for crime investigations to be speeded up when it came to various cases the police were dealing with.
Provincial police commissioner Mzwandile Petros said the centre also meant Cape Town could deliver on its mandate to make sure the 2010 World Cup activities in the province were crime-free.
Petros said using their advanced hi-tech systems; police would be able to track criminal activities at key hotspots such as taxi ranks and shopping malls.
Speaking in his turn, Western Cape community safety MEC Lennit Max said police and communities would not allow gangs to use neighbourhood as fields for gang fights and bloodshed.
He appealed to the community to give their full support and cooperation to the police and become more involved in the legitimate crime fighting structures such as the community policing forums and neighbourhood watches. – West Cape News