1 300 new metro cops to fight crime

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(File photo) Photo: Mujahid Safodien

The Joburg metro police department has a plan to revamp its image, eradicate corruption and instil confidence in members of the public, says JMPD chief Chris Ngcobo.

On Tuesday saw the launch of a project in Kliptown that will result in 1 300 new officers – 10 per ward – engaged in crime-prevention and by-law enforcement duties across Joburg.

Ngcobo, speaking at the launch, said the project would not just be about arrests, but also to educate the public about the need for law enforcement.

Simultaneously, new measures were being introduced into the JMPD to counter corruption and to increase the confidence of members of the public in the JMPD, he said:

“We have internal processes going on for new structures and processes to monitor and evaluate things, and change the way we work. We want ‘buy-in’ from communities, and have to instil confidence in them about the JMPD,” he said.

Officers will be trained in dealing with the public, will learn how to advise people about what laws they are breaking, what their rights and obligations are, and what recourses they have. The officers will be required to wear name tags at all times.

“The overwhelming majority of our officers are dedicated and honest. A few bad elements give the whole department a bad name,” he said.

The new project marked an occasion that would change the face of policing in Joburg, said mayor Parks Tau.

The officers, he said, would be at the coalface of the community and of creating a safer environment. They would change the orientation of policing trends in the city, he added.

The officers would make direct contact with residents, community organisations, ward committees, councillors, neighbourhood patrols and private security companies, and would concentrate on law enforcement and crime-prevention.

“Their first task will be to go into the communities and get to know their profiles, and the problems which they experience on a daily basis – be this crime, illegal dumping, building irregularities or traffic violations.

“It will be our responsibility to assess what these problems are and bring in other utilities and agencies, if necessary, such as the Johannesburg Roads Agency, Pikitup, health or planning departments, SAPS, SA Revenue Service, Home Affairs, schools and churches.

“We will all work together. We want to dispel the perception that the city is not safe. We want to ensure that our residents live and work in a city with communities and residents from neighbourhoods where every man, woman and child can feel safe and secure,” he said.

“The JMPD officers will be visiting their areas in the next few weeks and speaking to people as well as distributing leaflets with relevant numbers.

“We also intend cleaning up crime hot spots, taking action against law-breakers and addressing petty crime and minor offences before they turn into major problems. By being in the community itself, there is great potential to address problems,” he said.

However, most residents said they had not been told about the new scheme. Lance Porter, from the Randburg community police forum, said they had not been informed of this, but “it would be welcome”.

“Any additional policing in the area will help,” he said.

The Joburg Advocacy Group’s (jag) Lee Cahill also said she had not heard about it.

“But, we at JAG are delighted to hear of this initiative, as we not only support local, ward-based governance but visible policing as well.

“The immediate and intensive policing of by-laws, in particular, is to be welcomed. By-law violations have escalated to alarming proportions, and these need to be dealt with in a systematic way to reduce crime, improve the quality of life for residents and facilitate better service delivery.

“We commend the City of Joburg on this initiative and look forward to seeing it being rolled out in the very near future,” she said.

DUTIES CLEARLY OUTLINED

The functions of the new 1 300 metro police officers are:

* Ensuring by-law compliance and acting on issues like illegal trading, dumping, unsightly graffiti, land invasion, vandalism of public infrastructure, illegal car washing, vagrancy and loitering;

* Acting against illegal land use, building and land invasion, and hijacking of property;

* Traffic safety enforcement and traffic-flow management, including reporting faulty or missing traffic signals;

* Checking for illegal trading in liquor and the closing down of unlicensed outlets;

* Acting on the trade of stolen goods and counterfeit products;

* Environmental health and fire safety – including unannounced visits to taverns, spaza shops, nightclubs and restaurants to deal with noise, unhygienic conditions and fire hazards; and

* Pro-active reporting of infrastructure breakdown and urban decay that contribute to a crime-and-grime environment – such as overgrown grass, illegal dumping, missing manhole covers, blocked stormwater outlets, water leaks, streets and parks that are not properly maintained.

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