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Unisa online - Community policing: the African context

From left: Brigadier KS Mudau (Director: Human Resource Development), Mr Demelash Kassaye Debalkie (Managing Director: School of Graduates Studies and Research at the Addis Ababa University) Prof David Masiloane (Chair of Department: Police Practice) and Prof Rika Snyman (Professor in the Department of Police Practice)

The dawn of democracy came with a realisation that police alone cannot win the battle against crime. It is on this premise that community policing is emphasised in the SAPS Act. The Department of Police Practice in the College of Law hosted a guest lecturer on 2 July 2012 about community policing in Africa and its application. The lecture was entitled “Community Policing in Africa” and was delivered by Mr Demelash Kassaye Debalkie from the Addis Ababa University.

Prof David Masiloane, Chair of Department: Police Practice said that they are glad to have Mr Demelash as a speaker as there are a number of students studying Police Practice from Addis Ababa.

In his lecture, Mr Debalkie said that it is important for communities to find solutions to their own community crime problems. “Policing must be measured by the happiness of the community,” he said. He added that the police always need to build trust between themselves and the community.

His paper raised the need for complete commitment both from government and community. He said that there are African countries, including Kenya and Nigeria that are doing well in the implementation of community policing. “These countries are showing commitment to applying community policing,” he said.

He added that the ideal situation for the implementation of community policing is when the police become partners with the community, ensuring that they are able to solve problems together and provide a better quality of life for all. In light of the history of police practice during apartheid, the police have a lot of work to do in working together with the people. “The police have to work on the minds of the people… people have been oppressed by the police during the previous regime.”

He mentioned that even after democracy, people still fear the police and don’t trust them. The police have a responsibility to work in the communities and change this attitude in order to achieve community policing goals, added Mr Demelash.

He concluded by saying that he learnt an interesting concept in South Africa recently called “Sector Policing”. “I will ask members of the SAPS to send me more information about it as I would like to share it with my country,” he said.

Prof Rika Snyman chaired the question and answer session which stimulated a lot of questions

The event was attended by uniform members of SAPS from various police stations in Gauteng.

Mr Demelash Kassaye Debalkie is a Managing Director: School of Graduates Studies and Research at the Addis Ababa University. He served as the Head of Culture and Sports division, as well as the Department Head of Research, Plan and Project in the Addis Ababa Federal Police Commission. In 2011, he made presentations on “The impact of Community Policing in Mitigating Culture-Based Violence against Women” and “Training on Police Leadership and Community Policing”.

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