Despite the high rate of crime in Francistown, residents of the city are not keen on adopting the neighborhood watch initiative.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard on Friday Officer Commanding Number One District, Alakanani Makobo, said that they are disturbed by the high rate of crime that is prevalent in Francistown and its surrounding areas. Makobo said that there are frequent incidences of house breaking and robberies in his area and it seems efforts by the police are not bearing fruit because they are not augmented by similar efforts from the public.
“We have on more than one occasion asked people to initiate neighborhood watch committees and install security gadgets in their homes, or even to rear dogs, but it seems our pleas are falling on deaf ears,” he said.
Makobo revealed that from 6am on Thursday last week to 6 am on Friday they recorded eight cases of break-ins, burglaries and theft in the number one district which covers areas like Tonota, Gerald, Kutlwano and Matsiloje. By Friday only one suspect had been arrested in connection with one of the break-ins. “Though our area is vast, a rate of eight break-ins in 24 hours is not flattering and should be very worrying,” he said.
He appealed top Francistowners to embrace the neighborhood watch initiative as it has proven to be successful in other areas like Serowe and Gaborone. “People must learn to have collective territorial control over their areas of abode and jealously guard against intrusion by robbers and criminals,” he said.
Makobo also revealed that their efforts to get Francistowners to embrace the neighborhood watch initiative has proven futile and there is little that they can do. “You must understand that the neighborhood watch is an initiative of the people and not the police. Therefore, if the people do not embrace it, despite numerous public education campaigns, then there is northing that we can do” he said.
He also urged people to keep dogs because, apart from the fact that they are a deterrent to thieves, they can also warn residents of the presence of strangers.
The crime rate in Francistown has soared over the years because of unemployment and the influx of illegal immigrants into the city. Cases of house breakings, robberies, attempted rapes and people being beaten up and robbed off their wallets, cell phones and even groceries are so prevalent that some people nowadays do not even bother to report to the police.
Tebogo Semolale of Area A told The Sunday Standard that they are prone to high incidences of crime because they are nearer to the bushy area surrounding the golf course which has proven to be a reliable haven for petty criminals who are after money, clothes and cell phones.
“Most of the times, we do not even bother to report to the police because there is never any hope of catching the criminals,” she said. She also revealed that neighborhood watch in Area A is almost non existent and efforts to reinvigorate it have proven futile in the past. However, the neighborhood watch initiatives, which also involve collective contributions to pay security guards to patrol residential areas, have been very successful in areas like Block 7 in Gaborone which are very similar to Area A.
She also said that it is about time Francistowners woke up to the fact that curbing rime is not the responsibility of the police alone and called on other residents to contribute to the fight against crime.
“The police always concentrate on notorious crime areas like Kgaphamadi, Bluetown and Monarch. But they forget that criminals from these areas leave their areas of abode and come to rob the suburbs at night. At the same time, it is our responsibility to lend a hand in ensuring our security,” she said.
In the past, crime ridden areas like Somerset initiated neighborhood watch committees which patrolled the location during the night. While they were successful in catching a number of thieves, it later emerged that the patrol teams had been infiltrated by criminals who usually alerted their partners in crimes about the whereabouts of the patrol teams. Complaints were also raised that the patrol teams often took the law into their own hands and meted out mob justice to apprehended suspects, even going to the extent of robbing the suspects of their belongings.