Even though serious crime incidents like murder, rape, bodily harm that were recorded daily in Zola, as Old Naledi is popularly known, no longer give the police headache, the area remains a hot spot for criminals with theft incidents especially smash and grab and pick pocketing occurring more often.
The criminals target people, especially women in the evening after getting off from combis and snatch handbags, money, cellular phones, laptops and other valuables. Of recent, they introduced a new system which keeps the police on their toes in which they attack and snatch people’s belongings immediately when they disembark from public transport. Confirming that petty crime remains a concern, Naledi Police station commander, Superintendent Nelson Selabe said serious crimes have drastically dropped over the years but petty crimes remain a concern. He said years ago they were battling with murder cases which usually started off as fights at the shebeens but they managed to target and eliminate them (shebeens) after establishing that they fuel violent and serious crime.
He stated that the alcohol ban and COVID-19 regulations have contributed massively to the reduction in serious crime in the area. However, Selabe raised a concern over the escalating petty crime incidents in his policing area. He stated that people’s lives are in danger as they are being harassed by the thieves day and night. “The hot spots are the old BURS offices, the fly over between Gaborone West Industrial and Old Industrial.
The criminals snatch people’s handbags or smash people’s cars, cross the road running into the streets of the densely populated area,” he said. Selabe said the police are working hard to mitigate the escalating crime by working closely with clusters, hence engaging residents. He stated that usually the perpetrators are young men in their 20s, or younger, who are unemployed and depending on crime for survival.
The police officer said they usually go around carrying weapons such as knives and pairs of scissors, amongst other weapons. Sharing the same sentiments with Selabe, nominated area councilor, Daniel Modise conceded that petty crime remains a concern in the area pointing out that the majority of the perpetrators are residents of Old Naledi. He said in partnership with the police, they have encouraged residents to form neighborhood watch teams in which they can help each other curb crime. “As the leadership of this area, we want Old Naledi to shine like its name ‘Naledi’. Our wish is for the Setswana proverb that means you are your name, your name is your destiny and it is who you become, ‘Ina lebe seromo’, to reflect on us. We do not want to be called Ditlakaneng but to shine like stars,” he said. Modise conceded that people do not have peace due to criminals who continue to torment them day and night. He said the criminals also terrorise people who drive through Old Naledi location to beat traffic. “The city is overwhelmed with traffic congestion especially late in the evening and some motorists choose to pass by Old Naledi to beat traffic only to lose their valuables at the hands of these criminals.
They attack motorists in their cars, smash windows and make off with their valuables. Usually they target electronic gadgets, cell phones and cash,” Modise said. He stated that since they are located near the industrial area, these criminals have a habit of waiting for workers from that area who usually knock off late, pretend to be knocking off only to pounce on the unsuspecting victims.
Modise feared the environment that Old Naledi children grew under might impact on them negatively as they are likely to copy such lifestyles. “Children are easily influenced by what they see when growing up.
I fear that they might end up being criminals especially that they indulge in drug and alcohol at a tender age. Recently a Form Three student at Marulamantsi Junior Secondary School was caught with marijuana which he explained to have picked up by the roadside on his way when walking to school,” he said. However, Modise said he has been doing door-to-door visits pleading with residents to join hands to fight crime in the area.