Editor's Comment

Take criminals head-on

REPORTS about new gangs terrorising people in Kitwe are worrying.
It is a pity that so far, seven people have fallen victims to these criminals, with one admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Kitwe Teaching Hospital (KTH).
The emergence of a new gang is a wake-up call to the Zambia Police Service, which says it successfully brought the activities of these criminals to a stop.
Kitwe had become a fertile ground for gangs such as the Tokota Boys, the Hundreds and 90 Niggas. Most members of the groups were arrested and are currently appearing in the courts of law.
But just when residents thought the police had brought the situation under control, gang activities in Kitwe have resurfaced and people are being attacked by groups of thieves, with a 30-year-old man having been severely beaten and left unconscious on Saturday.
These attacks are taking place when recruits at Kamfinsa School of Public Order Maintenance as well as Lilayi Police College and Geoffrey Mukuma Paramilitary College are now in full-throttle drills for pass-out.
These are some of the tasks that await the men and women in uniform when they start passing out probably next month.
These gangs have the hallmarks of organised crime meant to disturb public focus by causing anarchy in the townships for them to control all activities.
The police dismiss the belief that gang crime has resurfaced, stating that these resent incidences are crimes that cannot, or should not, be attributed to specific groups of criminals.
Whatever the case, residents are again living in fear. Even if these crimes might not be linked, for the residents, they are related in that people are being harassed, beaten and robbed.
The desire is to ensure that residents live without fear of being attacked and their lives as well as property threatened.
If indeed the gangsters have been conclusively dealt with, the police should now just as effectively deal with this new wave of criminals terrorising residents.
The police should interrogate what conditions exist that have made the gang culture, or whatever line of crime, find a good niche, especially in Kitwe.
Is it an economic issue? Is it an acculturation issue or an emerging conspiracy among different interests? There is need to have deeper understanding around that. Are the police up to the challenge to constantly be ahead of the criminals?
The police, through their intelligence wing, have an oversight role to play but that also goes with the requisite capacity, which has been built during the time these recruits have been undergoing training.
It is expected that the police command will avail the men and women with all investigating tools needed to effectively deal with these criminals.
Transport and general logistics that are required by the investigators and arresting officers must be readily available. The excuse of no transport and expecting the victims of crime to fund investigations is unfair.
The police have performed well in many investigations as evidenced by successful prosecution of many of their cases, but theirs is a job that never ceases. Past glory is past glory. But it is also good experience.
Such is the experience that the police should use to quickly resolve this new challenge. They surely should already have some leads on who are behind these crimes.
Some of the police officers live in the communities in which the crimes are committed. Their trained minds should help point the investigators in the right direction.
The police should work with community leaders at all levels by communicating with them about their duties as citizens.
Members of the communities should cooperate with the police in identifying the gangs or any criminal and their hide-outs, where they coordinate their criminal activities from.
Police should strengthen the neighbourhood watch groups if they are to be on top of things in crime prevention. That is why there are police posts in all the communities.
Police should redouble their efforts to bond with the community because police posts on their own cannot bring people closer.
Generally, police are perceived to be unfriendly but regular engagement with citizens will remove these perceptions.
It is the duty of police to sensitise communities about their role. They should create activities that will draw members of the community to them.
Citizens and police united, the criminals stand no chance and will be put where they belong – behind bars.

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