Community involvement important in combating crime: Shikongo

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Robust cooperation and relationships between community members and police agencies should always be perpetuated to assist the effective combating of crimes, Deputy-Inspector General of Operations in the Namibian Police Force (NamPol), Joseph Shikongo, has said.

Shikongo made these remarks while addressing lodge owners and community members in Sesriem and Sossusvlei in the Hardap Region during a three-day NamPol tour to the Naukluft Park areas, where issues on finding ways in assisting curbing of crimes that affect lodge owners in the region were among those discussed.

Shikongo said that combating crimes should be a collective effort from all stakeholders, adding that the police plan to strengthen working relationships with lodge owners, thus protecting tourists from criminals, while simultaneously protecting wild animals from poachers.

'Our tourists are no longer safe and they contribute a lot to Namibia's economy. They chose to come here because they believe it is one of the safest countries in Africa. How can we as citizens of this country maintain our status in the world if we are still robbing them of their valuables?' asked Shikongo.

He further emphasised that strong relationships and mutual trust between police and the communities are critical to maintaining the safety of both the community and their properties, adding that community members should not fear reporting crimes even though it involves those close to them.

'We have suggestion boxes at our stations. Make use of that for cases involving police officers and sales and distribution of drugs,' he advised those who feared intimidation by reporting cases involving those close to them or law enforcement agents.

Also speaking at the meeting, Sossusvlei Lodge manager, Karl-Heinz Oosthuizen, stated that they feel neglected by the government as no officials visited the area over the past five years.

'We feel like outsiders. It's as if we are not in Namibia,' he noted.

He also expressed gratitude towards Shikong and his team of more than 10 police officials for their visit, adding that the area of Naukluft has thus far recorded fewer crimes.

Source: Namibia Press Agency