WE’RE IN CONTROL
Police intensify war on crime
Despite the rise of robbery incidents in Gaborone for the past three months police have insisted that they have the situation under control.
Senior Superintendent Dipheko Motube of the police Public Relations Unit says despite disturbing crime related news headline crime in general, especially violent and intrusive crime levels have gone down compared to last year.
“It’s just that for the past three or four months there was a sudden upsurge of robbery incidents.
But as far as our statistics is concerned generally crime has decreased from last year.”he said
Police statistics indicate that incidents of robbery and attempted robbery decreased by 28 percent this year with 900 cases having been recorded compared to 1 252 that were recorded around the same period last year.
Crime in general, Motube said has reduced by 12%.
When quizzed about the seemingly rising use of fire arms in most of the robberies, Motube said criminals smuggle such weapons from neighbouring countries.
He denied that any former police or security organs’ employees were ever implicated in the robberies.
“Our findings suggest that most of the people who get implicated in such crimes are just ordinary Batswana and most of them are repeat offenders who commit the crimes after they are acquitted or are on bail for similar crimes.”
Motube added that such crimes are fueled by some sectors of the community who survive by crime proceeds.
“That is why we end up with such repeat offenders.
As soon as they are released their only means of survival is to steal again and they get worse with every robbery they commit.
Luckily for now we have arrested most of the culprits and I can safely say very soon we’ll be having all those that at large in custody, ” he added.
The police spokesperson further said crime hot-spots in the country are the densely populated areas such as cities, towns and major villages.
“In the South Central Division for example we have areas such as Serowe, Tswapong, Kgatleng, Gaborone and Ramotswa and other areas along the railway line.
The greater Gaborone area itself is densely populated with areas such as Gabane with a population of 18 000, Mogoditshane- 58 000, Mmopane, 17 000, Metsemotlhabe, 19 000 and Kopong- 12 000 being some of the hotspots.”
Motube said had it not been for the recent economic crisis all these areas would have been beefed up with police personnel.
He added that the police force was doing its best to improve police visibility especially in high crime areas.
“We have our officers with the support of special constables on regular patrols together with specialized teams who focus on certain crimes.
We also have cluster policing, volunteer policing as strategies in place to combat crime.
So far I can safely say we have the situation under control and we are winning the war.”
THAMAGA MARCH AGAINST CRIME
Open Hearts, a Thamaga based charitable organisation are taking action against the rising crime levels that have instilled fear in the village.
Founder and Chairman of the organisation, Lawrence Itheeng says Open Hearts have decided to take time off their charitable activities on October 5th to engage Thamaga residents and authorities on a solution finding mission against the crime situation.
“Our vision and mission at Open Hearts is to ensure a good and healthy upbringing for underprivileged children especially orphans but we decided that we could not ignore the rising crime situation as we need a safe environment for children too,” he said.
Thamaga has of late been hit by a spate of robberies, muggings and vandalism incidents by gangs of youthful thugs codenamed ‘Merubisi’.
Their spate of criminal activities brought fear and shock among residents so much that anxious village authorities recently called a meeting at the village kgotla to address the issue.
One of the crime victims, Mogolo Komane told of how her bar was vandalised and robbed as scores of customers ran for cover in fear of their lives.
“I had just closed the doors at 11pm when a group of about 50 youngsters emerged from the nearby rocks armed with sticks and stones to strike terror.” said Komane.
The young men apparently forced their way into the bar and emptied the fridges, smashed beer bottles on the floors and broke all the windows before the police could arrive.
When they were done with the bar the terror squad then proceeded to randomly assault people in the village.
While Thamaga police Station Commander, Balisi Ntamba, has since denied that the terror group was part of the remnants of the infamous Merubisi gang that terrorised the village in the late 90s, he confirmed that crime in the village was a concern.
Itheeng says the event will begin with a 20km sponsored walk through the village to the kgotla and that participants will include the Member of Parliament for the area, the Station Commander and other village authorities.
“Victims of crime will also drive the message home by sharing their experiences,” he said.
Itheeng says there has been a positive response from a number of retail stores who have agreed to sponsor the event.
GIVE SECURITY GUARDS AND POLICE OFFICERS GUNS
Gaborone has turned into a ‘gangster’s paradise’ with a number of robberies occurring every week.
The Voice reporter Daniel Kenosi took to the streets where some members of the public suggested police and security guards should be armed to fight crime.
Thabang Malau (32), self employed
I didn’t care at first and I just thought it was just some of those petty thefts and it will vanish but I am now disturbed because each and every day a serious crime is reported on news.
Something should be done to curb all this sickness. We no longer walk the streets freely.
They recently broke into my house and got away with all my business equipments.
I was forced to start from scratch and what worries me most is that those involved in all these crimes are young people who could be out there seeking employment.
Julian Otukile (25), businessman
There is need to increase the current number of police officers.
Up until our Government does something to motivate the poor police officers nothing will change.
The Government should increase the number of police officers we already have and from there, their salaries should be increased.
There is no way we can expect them to be active when they are paid peanuts.
Mob justice should be encouraged to curb crime.
Mokgosi Tirelo (38), Engineer
The youth have been ignored for a very long time hence preferring theft.
It’s high time acquiring trade licenses is made easier for all to have their own businesses.
Life is very tough and even our leaders have admitted that we are the most unemployed section of the population.
The problem is that we are not encouraged when we try to come up with our own business initiatives.
Right now when you want a license to start a very small business, it takes ages and what would one be doing in that period when they are waiting to be given a simple license or even land.
That’s why most of young people are behind bars, they never received enough support from our national leaders and not even the youth minister is willing to say a word on this issue.
There is no way one can steal when they have a balanced life.
Phadi Wanthata (27), student (ABM)
It is time for the police to patrol with guns.
The thugs have noticed that all the police loop holes.
In most robbery cases you would be told that the culprits were heavily armed with guns and the police would appear empty hands.
On the other hand they should also be taught basics of good customer service and even reaction techniques.
I strongly believe that if we could just provide them with guns it will help to reduce the robberies.
Girly Mokgosi (28), self employed
“I was once robbed of my P900 by thugs who claimed that they were employees of a company selling tyres but they vanished into thin air my hard earned money.
It will however not be easy to fight crime if everyone is not will to help.
It will not be easy for police officers to arrest thugs because some members of the society hide the culprits.
Members of the public should refrain from buying second hand goods as this encourages thieves to go out and steal more.
Koziba Makhumalo (23), Student
If they know that every family has a gun they will keep a distance but on the other hand I know that such is likely to create more chaos as thugs will turn to stealing the same guns.
As for now they just attack us knowing very well that there is nothing we can do to harm them. Police are also invisible on the streets.
I think security guards at all public places should be armed.
Our security guards are currently toothless dogs and there is nothing they can do because they only carry knobkerrie, even a 5 year old doesn’t fear that.
STAY CALM DURING ARMED ROBBERY
With Gaborone as a haven for gun totting criminals, it is better to stay safe than add to statistics of those who lost lives at the hands of these criminals.
Bank staff is trained on how to react during an armed robbery, but as a customer or passer-by, you may not know what to do during an armed robbery.
This comes in the wake of what happened to an Indian businessman who lost his life in Phase 2 Gaborone while trying to apprehend an armed robber.
Voice reporter Chedza Simon researched on about nine (9) tips that will help you to stay calm during an armed robbery.
Stay alert: When robbers break into your house, stay calm. If you realised any sinister movement outside the house, you have time to call the police as calm as possible.
But if they are already inside the house, stay calm and avoid running for the cellphone or anything that could raise their hair.
Cooperate: Before anything else signal your intention to the robbers that you intend to cooperate. This isn’t the time for heroics and defiance.
Make it obvious that you are acquiescing by responding to their requests promptly and not back chatting to any of their demands.
Cooperating will help you to stay calm because your chances of surviving the incident are greatly increased by doing nothing to set off the volatility of the robbers.
Remind yourself that the incident will be over faster if you comply with their demands.
Focus on staying calm: If you feel panic beginning to rise, it’s important to try and slow down your thoughts and remain focused on pulling through.
Signs of panic include a racing pulse, dizziness, sweating and cramps in your hands and feet; it will often progress to hyperventilation (difficulty in breathing), which can last for several hours.
As you can tell, these symptoms risk dulling your senses and getting you through the situation with your wits about you because your body starts overriding your mind.
If you do feel panic rising, try the following:
• Aim to decrease the speed at which you’re breathing. Focus on taking deeper breaths, more slowly.
• Relax all of your muscles. Do this by tensing them up deliberately for a few seconds and then letting them relax.
You can do this unnoticed whether standing, sitting or lying down.
• Return to focusing on your breathing.
Listen as well as you can. Apart from gathering potentially useful details, listening carefully can help to keep you calm as you’ll be more aware of what the robbers intend to do as they talk.
Also try to watch the robbers’ movements if doing so doesn’t endanger you, as body language can help you gauge what they intend to do next.
Expect swearing, shouting and other unnerving noise and actions or reactions.
If you’re prepared for volatile, scared and crazy behavior from the robbers, at least you’re on guard for the worst and can try to focus on protecting yourself, seeking any valid exit possibilities or finding ways to keep yourself out of harm’s way (and unnoticed).
Avoid any sudden moves; most robbers are as nervous as you are and anything can set them off.
If you do need to move, reach or change your position, tell the robber first so that they’re aware and not surprised by your moves.
Focus on other people in the same predicament as you.
A good way to remain calm is to assume responsibility for helping other people around you remain calm and supported.
While you’re busy trying to help them and be strong for them, you’re less likely to give in to fearful and panicked reactions.
Spend time looking for ways out of the situation. Consider whether escape is a safe possibility or not (most times it is best to wait it out).
Consider whether it is worth talking to the robbers or not.
Working on strategies to get through the event can help to keep you calm because you’ll feel that you have at least a little control over what is happening to you.
Don’t try to outsmart or clever talk the robber. Always calmly talk about your needs, such as needing to collect a child from school on time or feeling sick, etc.
Help the robber to respond to you as a person, not a brave hero or a nervous wreck.
Go inside yourself and build a protective wall. During the minutes of the robbery, time can seem to stretch eternally.
It can help by drawing on inner resources to keep yourself calm and focused on the time when it will be over.
If you have a faith, draw strength from your beliefs.
If not, you can still draw on your reserves of strength and belief that you will see this incident through and it will soon be all but a memory.
Visualize when the time will be over and you are free again.
Aim to stay calm and seek help after the robbery.
Not only call the police as soon as it is safe to do so but call your therapist or seek debriefing through your workplace or through the police.
You need to have the chance to talk out the experience or to air your worries to someone sympathetic and understanding.
If you focused hard on remaining calm throughout the robbery, it’s likely that a lot of your emotions have been delayed and the aftermath can be very confusing and anxiety-producing for you, so don’t hesitate to seek help for working through your fear and trauma.