2015 CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM THE NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF POLICE – I.M.MAGAGULA ESQ.
The excitement and frenzy that comes with Christmas is already in full swing as this day where Nations around the world celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ who was proclaimed by the Prophet Isaiah as chronicled in Isaiah 9 verse 6 as the Prince of Peace.
Suffice that, practice and trends around the world, have also manifested in Christmas being a period where people take time to be with their loved ones whilst engaging in festivities as a way of refreshing after what has been a long and taxing year.
As a Police Service we are taking this opportunity to wish the Swazi Nation a merry Christmas characterized with peace and an all permeating spirit of joy and goodwill.
May also this be a Christmas marked by tranquility and safety for all, devoid of any incident of neither criminality nor carnage on the roads that so often blights what should in essence be a time of joy and merriment.
This year’s Christmas period comes at a time when our most cherished and sacred cultural event as a Nation – the Incwala Ceremony is at its climax.
This is a Ceremony equally demanding that safety and security arrangements are enhanced so that nothing untoward disturbs its smooth proceeding.
Policing Arrangements during the Festive Season & Incwala Ceremony
Accordingly, as the entity entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of the Nation, together with other Security Agencies, we are not only geared up to provide a policing service of the highest standard, but we have already upped the ante in our operational frameworks to see to it that nothing disturbs the peace and visits trauma to citizens and the many visitors to the Kingdom during this time.
To this end, in tandem with our guiding operational mantra, “Siyavutsa Bhe”, which means that we are blazing hot and zero tolerant to any misdemeanors, Police officers have been deployed to keep a hawk eye and provide security in all strategic public spaces encapsulating both urban and rural areas.
Criminal elements are therefore, forewarned not to take any chances as the broad spectrum of the law enforcement machinery is at peak level ready to swoop on anyone that commits any infraction impacting on law and order.
By a similar token, in consonance with our “Arrive Alive” road traffic policing pillar slogan, visibility has also been intensified on the roads and highways as a proactive measure to curtail accidents as we are desirous that road safety prevails and is kept at optimum levels.
In this regard, a zero tolerance approach has been instilled and adopted by our operational traffic policing practitioners to clamp down on any wayward behavior on the roads, especially the most hazardous trio of drunken driving, over-speeding and overloading by public service vehicles, which accounts for 80% of serious and fatal accidents.
Appeal to the Public
Cognizant of the philosophy that guides our operational frameworks, which is policing by the consent and mandate of the public.
This philosophy highlights that we do everything with the approval and cooperation of the public. Hence, we are acutely aware that the safety and security strategies we are rolling out can come to naught without the cooperation and full support of the public.
The father of Policing Philosophy – Sir Robert Peel when articulating Principles of Law Enforcement stated that “the Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law in order to be able to efficaciously safeguard safety and security”.
We therefore, appeal to the various categories of stakeholders in the crime and road accident prevention value chain, to join hands with the Police in ensuring that our target of a Crime and Accident Free Christmas and Incwala Ceremony is achieved.
The public is thus requested to conduct themselves in a disciplined manner and cooperate with the Police at all times. Discipline, self- restraint and respect should be the watchwords for everyone.
General Safety and Security Advice
To ensure maximum levels of safety and security throughout Christmas and the Incwala Ceremony we have advise to the Nation covering several areas which are:
Home Security and Neighbourhood Watch
The fact that during this period many people travel away from their homes either for holiday or to visit relatives and friends, their properties become vulnerable to break-ins by criminal elements.
Our advice is that where possible, someone mature enough should be left behind to keep guard of that home or property rather than leaving one’s home completely unattended.
In addition, it is prudent to report one’s absence from home to the local Police Station for regular patrols arrangements.
We also urge the public to embrace the neighbourhood watch concept that is reporting to neighbours about one’s absence so that they may keep an eye on your property and raise an alarm whenever something suspicious is observed.
In fact, this is a time where neighbourhood watch groups have to really intensify their activities which may include conducting patrols within their locality.
Business Cash Security
With Christmas shoppers flooding business outlets to purchase an assortment of commodities for the festive period, businesses may be rendered vulnerable if proper care and circumspection is not exercised with respect to cash security.
Business owners are therefore encouraged to heighten security arrangements to complement the Police who cannot be everywhere all the time.
We also encourage businesses to operate guided by the ethos of the Business Against Crime concept which encourages sharing notes and strategies on reducing the risks of crime by improving crime prevention measures and enhancing cooperation with the Police.
Furthermore, owners of businesses are advised to avoid keeping large amounts of cash within their establishments, but to ensure that money accumulated is regularly dispatched to banking facilities. In the event assistance is sought for security coverage when transporting cash, liaison should be made with local Station Commanders.
Stokvel Cash Security
Members of Money Saving Schemes also known as Stokvels in particular the treasurers of such groupings, are urged to refrain from keeping large amounts of cash in their homes, but to see to it that members savings are kept at banking institutions.
We have numerous cases where money belonging to Stokvels is reported to have been stolen simply because of not being kept in a safe and secure place.
Personal Cash Safety
At an individual level, the public is cautioned against carrying around large amounts of cash in their person or in vehicles to avoid falling victims of the Landela Gang who are also at their most notorious at this time.
To augment the warnings issued by the Banking Association which is one of our strategic partners as a Police Service, the public should ensure that care and vigilance is exercised at ATM facilities to avoid being exposed to identity theft and banking card cloning.
Conmen posing as dubious philanthropists become common at this time of the year promising unwary shoppers unbelievable bargains if they are engaged as middlemen to facilitate business transactions and purchase of commodities.
The public should be cautious of such elements and ensure that all business dealings and transactions are done strictly by the book and following due process to avoid being duped.
Avoiding Sexual Assaults/Abuse
With revelers partaking in all manner of festivities such as late night parties or visiting drinking holes, circumspection should be taken especially by females to avoid walking alone at night moreso in areas such as dark alleys or those that are bushy as they may be easily waylaid by elements who may sexually violate them.
Late night traveling in general by females especially boarding the very last public service vehicle to visit relatives and friends is equally not encouraged as we have recorded a number of rape cases emanating from such circumstances.
Avoiding Human Trafficking
People should also be wary of being enticed to undertake unplanned visits especially to neighbouring countries lest they become victims of human trafficking.
All trips should be planned prior and be confirmed as above board.
Alcohol Abuse leading to Crimes of Violence
We also appeal to the public out there to avoid indulging excessively in alcohol it has proven to be a trigger of crimes of violence such as aggravated assaults, murders and passion killings.
Such cases are a serious challenge at this particular time and their genesis is almost always traceable to abuse of alcohol.
The same applies to those who keep grudges all year long and seek revenge from their adversaries at Christmas time.
This practice is against the spirit of Christmas which as pointed out is all about rejoicing.
Safety on the Roads
As indicated road traffic safety is a priority focus for the Police during Christmas and the Incwala Ceremony.
Accordingly, our appeal to all categories of road users out there is to consistently behave in a responsible manner adhering to all the prerequisites of road safety.
In particular high levels of caution and due care are to be exercised in areas where Libutfo will be marching with Police directing the flow of traffic.
Motorists should heed to the directives of the Police to avoid any likelihood of an accident.
In general the public is reminded and cautioned on the following road safety aspects:-
Drinking and Driving
Drunken driving is amongst the trio of irresponsible forms of conduct by motorists that drives up carnage on the roads.
It is a serious concern that the build up to Christmas has seen the numbers of motorists that are nabbed for drinking and driving increasing which indicates that people remain defiant of the warnings we issue on the hazards of this practice.
We will accordingly be zero tolerant to this form of waywardness and motorists found to have imbibed alcohol will face the full might and wrath of the law.
Over-speeding and Reckless Driving
Over-speeding which is another hazard factor will also not be tolerated and people advised to heed the speed limits displayed by road signage.
The same applies to driving in a reckless and negligent manner which shall also invoke the retributive process of the law.
Overloading by public service vehicles is yet another notorious factor contributing to carnage on our roads.
In this regard, public service vehicle proprietors are urged to put the safety of their customers first as opposed bulging their profit margins by adhering strictly to the carrying capacity of their vehicles.
Unroadworthy vehicles should not dare make a foray on the roads as they will be impounded by the Police.
We have already had a series of operations that were targeted at removing unroadworthy vehicles on the road which culminated in over seven hundred (700) being scrapped.
Use of Cell phones by Road Users
Use of cell phones by both motorists and pedestrians is rapidly gaining momentum as another factor contributing to traffic accidents as they distract focus and attention.
Road users are therefore warned from using cell phones whilst driving and/or crossing roadways as that is a serious violation of the traffic law.
Irresponsible Pedestrian Conduct
Pedestrians are also urged behave responsibly on the road as we continue to record significant numbers of accidents that are caused by unbecoming behavior on the part of pedestrians such as crossing the road willy nilly without properly scanning the flow of traffic as well not using designated crossing areas like overheard bridges.
Directive to Police Officers
To all police officers that have been deployed for the festive operations and the Incwala Ceremony, we expect nothing but utmost professionalism and diligence.
Police officers are reminded that they are in the first instance, servants of the public who should go that extra mile in rendering assistance to all those requiring their services particularly, in distress situations.
Emphasis is also placed on the values we venerate as an organisation regarding to treating the public with empathy, civility and respect as well the 24/7 philosophy which is about putting duty first before personal aggrandizement.
Once again as a Police Service we take this opportunity to wish the entire Swazi Nation a happy and peaceful Christmas.
A similar message of goodwill is extended to members of the Royal Swaziland Police Service and their families.