FRANCISTOWN: Neighbourhood clusters in Area W have turned out to be a force to be reckoned with in fighting crime as attested by police who contend that the place is more peaceful than it used to be.
Tatitown Police Station commander, Superintendent Tebogo Madisa said the general crime rate in their policing area has been reduced because of the neighbourhood clusters that help the police in patrols at night. "These people provide us with information and they have motivation and often make citizen arrests of the criminals. Their contribution in fighting crime is immense," he said.
During a kgotla meeting convened by residents in conjunction with the police, there was unanimous agreement to fight the social ills bedeviling their neighbourhood. It was also agreed that residents would arrest or report any person loitering around for the purpose of prostituting. Houses suspected to be havens for illegal immigrants, were also targeted. Due to these concerted efforts, crime has drastically been reduced in Area W and residents are grateful for this turn of affairs. "We seldom hear reports of people being attacked in their homes by intruders.
This is a good sign that residents are succeeding in their fight against crime," says Abel Mooketsi, aged 84.
Maria Mogibelo, who runs a vending stall at the Area W shopping complex, says ever since the residents embarked on the operation to chase out illegal immigrants, Area W has become serene.The 48-year-old woman seems unfazed by the fact that her business has been negatively affected by this operation. While she admits that she does not get as many customers as she used to, she is more concerned about the spread of HIV and AIDS and sexually transmitted infections brought about by prostitutes. For Malebogo Tanyala, aged 34, her sleep is no longer interrupted. "We now sleep peacefully in our houses and never hear of break-ins," she says.
She adds that police are always carrying out patrols in the area, which are made easier by the fact that Area W is not such a big location. Tanyala says before the clusters the crime situation in the area had become terrible. A patron at a bar, who preferred not to be identified says: "Area W is a quiet place these days, unlike in the past when we used to be harassed by thieves while having a good time in the bars. The police are really doing a great job." He adds that prostitution was the main worry in the area as it tarnished the image of the location.
"The youth in this area are very cooperative and they have formed a group which fights prostitution. The rule is that if they see anyone prostituting they should report them to the police or arrest them if they need to," he quips. When contacted for comment, MP for the area, Phandu Skelemani expressed concern at people who harbour prostitutes in their homes. He said such people are only concerned about financial gains at the expense of lives.