Police Minister Bheki Cele on Thursday said he was not convinced community patrollers should be on the streets fending off crime during the ongoing lockdown to curb the spread the coronavirus. Cele told reporters in Pretoria that he has received numerous requests from neighbourhood watch committees who want to augment the work of the South African Police Service in fighting crime. Some South Africans have been calling for community patrollers to be allowed to work in a bid to curb crime and the numerous burglaries at schools during the extended lockdown.
When the soldiers and the police do things wrong, you know where to go. I don’t think you know where to go when neighbourhood watch does things wrong and what is their accountability structure. That is the problem,” said Cele.
“People like soldiers, police and the metro police have a history, that you call they are vetted and known. Neighbourhood watch, I don’t think they are vetted. I don’t think you have their history to tell who they are and where they come from and all that.
Cele said he does not have a problem discussing the matter further, “but there are these shortcomings that are existing at the present moment”. He said he was also ready to engage with various community policing forums (CPFs).
“The CPFs are doing a good job most of the times but at times they come across as a problem when they come into politics instead of getting on issues on the ground. So we have received the problem of politics around the CPFs but we have no problem engaging with their national structure,” he said.
South Africa’s lockdown is accompanied by a string of regulations that limit the movement of citizens, who are expected to stay at home unless they are shopping for food, seeking medical help or supplies, banking, buying petrol, collecting social grants, or performing essential services.
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