NEW YEAR’S MESSAGE FROM THE NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF POLICE – I.M.MAGAGULA ESQ.
As the Festive Season comes to its climax, with everyone waiting with baited breath to welcome the New Year, we are taking this opportunity to wish the Nation a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Our sincere hope is that the customary celebrations to usher in the New Year will be peaceful in line with our articulated aspiration of having festive holidays that are crime and road accident free.
Reflection on Incwala Ceremony and Christmas Period
We would like to use the medium of this press conference to offer our sincere congratulations to Their Royal Majesties and the entire Swazi Nation on a very successful Incwala Ceremony that proceeded without any untoward incidents being reported.
To this end, we commend the Nation for fully cooperating with the Police and the other Security Forces who were deployed to provide security coverage throughout the various stages of this sacred ceremony.
Whilst the ceremony has not reached finality as there are still certain aspects remaining, it is our hope that the prevailing exemplary behaviour that characterized the early and climax stages will be maintained until the dispersal of the regiments.
In the same token, we extend our profound gratitude to the Nation for the good conduct exhibited and for cooperating with the Police during the entire Christmas holidays.
To all intents and purposes, the Christmas holidays covering the period 24th to 26th December were relatively peaceful, albeit that we did have isolated incidents of crime and traffic accidents.
Serious Crimes Recorded
In the crime scene, we had two (2) Murder cases recorded whereas during the comparable period in the past year, there were three (3) incidents which though denoting an improvement is no respite because the loss of just one life through violence is one loss too many.
As always, the homicides were linked with excessive alcohol intake and petty squabbles, and we shall continue as we hereby do, to warn Nation against such antisocial behavior.
Other serious crimes which were recorded are Armed Robberies and Rapes which reflected an increase when comparing with the picture which prevailed last year.
For instance, there were three (3) Armed Robberies whilst none was recorded last year. With regard to Rapes, we had ten (10) cases compared to four (4) during the same period in the year 2014.
The Rape statistics are of grave cause for concern, showing the extent of the moral depravity and animalistic tendencies amongst some members of the male species.
Suffice that, we continue to appeal to vulnerable categories to avoid exposing themselves to risky situations such as walking alone in dark alleys at night and going around over-imbibing in alcohol.
There is no question that these are risk factors and by cautioning women folk that should not be construed to mean we are overlooking the perverted conduct of those who commit this most heinous of crimes.
Road Traffic Scene
In the analysis of how we have fared in the road traffic scene during the Christmas holidays, our focus has been on serious and fatal accidents.
Overall, there were eight (8) serious accidents recorded this year, whilst ten (10) occurred in 2014, which reflect a slight decrease of 20%.
With respect to fatal accidents, we had four (4) incidents compared to two (2) in 2014, translating to a slight increase of 33.3%.
Whilst disturbed by the loss of life, we are deeply concerned that some of the accidents were caused by the same old erratic behavior patterns on the roads we have always warned the Nation about which are drunken driving, over-speeding/reckless driving as well as lack of proper circumspection and/or judgment on the part of pedestrians.
Policing Arrangements for the New Year’s Celebrations & Expectations from the Public
Coming back to the New Year’s crossover celebrations, the Police will continue intensifying the high levels of visibility to ensure that safety and security prevails, as history has informed us that there are those people who usually go overboard in their excitement and engage in practices that result in disorder and infringe on rights of others.
In as much as the Police will be deployed in strategic areas, their efforts can still come to naught without the cooperation of the public especially on the aspect of safety and security consciousness to avoid making themselves and their properties vulnerable to crime as the Police cannot be everywhere all the time.
For instance, it is still imperative that people report their absence from their homes to their neighbours so that they can keep an eye on their property in the spirit of neighbourhood watch. Absence from home can also be reported to the Police for regular patrols.
The same spirit of safety consciousness applies to avoiding road accidents, for instance, by refraining from the practices that are contributory to accidents such as drinking and driving and over-speeding.
For maximum peace and order to prevail during the New Year celebrations we urge the Nation to guard against and try to avoid the following:
Raucous and Rowdy Celebration
It is unfortunate that some celebrations to welcome the New Year are marked by raucousness and rowdiness with people blocking the free flow of traffic on the roads by placing stones or burning tyres in the middle of the roadway.
There are also those who pelt motor vehicles with stones and other projectiles in a weird and bizarre way of celebrating.
Such antics and stunts will not be tolerated as they are out of order and a disturbance to public peace.
The rowdy celebrations also become a fertile ground for violent fights which often lead to grievous assaults and/or loss of life, a situation which we must all ensure that it is avoided at all costs.
Other chaotic celebrations are those marked by playing music systems at full blast and for prolonged periods denying neighbours the opportunity to have a peaceful sleep.
Similar sentiments are applicable to discharging fireworks that generate too much noise well beyond the reasonable time frame for celebrations which in urban areas has been set by Municipal Authorities.
Liquor traders are also requested to stick to their licensed operating times to avoid a situation where their patrons indulge excessively in alcohol which is another factor that precipitates crimes of violence.
The Police will be monitoring the operations of drinking establishments and we appeal for cooperation of proprietors.
Crossover Gigs and Events
With a number of crossover gigs and allied events planned as part of welcoming the New Year, we encourage the event organizers/hosts to see to it that security arrangements are in place for the safety of revelers.
In the same vein, the revelers themselves are requested to behave in a responsible manner for such events to proceed without the occurrence of any untoward incidents.
Behavior on the Roads
To have road accident free New Year celebrations, we continue to appeal to motorists to avoid any of the pitfalls that are a catalyst for road carnage, that is, drinking and driving, over-speeding and reckless driving.
Also falling in the category of reckless driving is the tendency to spin vehicles in the midst of the road posing a danger to other road users, which is sometimes witnessed during this particular time.
We therefore, warn motorists against this dangerous and wayward practice which is difficult to construe as to how it qualifies to be considered as a way of celebrating the milestone of reaching a New Year in the first place.
Suffice that, pedestrians are also a category of road users we wish to advise on proper conduct on the roads such as avoiding jaywalking and crossing in undesignated points.
Once more, I wish the entire Nation a Happy New Year that will be marked by success and prosperity in all fronts.
A similar message of goodwill is extended to all members of the Royal Swaziland Police Service and their families.