By Dr Feroza Patel
Around the second week of January 2020, as I browsed News24 I stumbled across an opinion piece penned by Vedhan Singh, a member of the African Union and United Nations Security Council.
The author addressed what he believed is policing at its best during the festive season in Durban and stated that this must continue.
The point Singh brought to the fore was that ideally a major shift is required to make this positive festive season policing the daily practice in the Durban central suburb.
As I read what Vedhan Singh called “A status quo shift needed for Durban policing”, the author made sense in both the argument put forth as well as in accurately describing the actual policing festive season operations on the ground in the bustling and busy city centre of Durban.
While Singh managed to clearly write about the facts of the policing in the Durban central area, I questioned the credibility of the author’s work as there was a gross absence of concise facts and figures.
My posture on Vedhan Singh’s piece quickly shifted upon hearing Police Minister Bheki Cele deliver the festive season crime stats.
Cele commented about “intensified police” – Singh had written that “every nook and cranny of the city was policed”.
There were various similarities in the ideologies put forward by Singh and Cele.
Writing about the observation of festive season policing, Singh first stated that:
“The multi-pronged approach to policing saw departments roll up their sleeves and come together to combat any and all forms of lawlessness.”
While Cele – delivering the actual festive season crime stats in the third week of January – went on to say that:
“Our concerted effort of building partnerships and working together with communities and stakeholders in the fight against crime is exactly what makes the festive season report of the police a good story to tell.”
The foresight and vision presented by Singh is quite remarkable.
It is indeed most pleasing and a pleasure to have a South African with such amazing insight at the continental and international level of the African Union and United Nations – weeks before the South African leadership even comments on it.
My sheer hope is that the South African government heeds the call made by Singh to shift the status quo of Durban policing in order to make the city centre safer for all.
Dr Feroza Patel is a Lead Research Specialist in Southern African Institute for the Advancement of Criminal Justice