Friday, January 18, 2019
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Regional police chiefs to address cross-border crimes

A soldier patrols the South Africa Mozambique border.Police chiefs from the Southern Africa region have taken time out of their busy schedules to look at ways to intensify efforts to ensure that criminals who are involved in cross-border crimes have no place to hide.

Under the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation’s (SARPCCO) banner, representatives from the 15 member countries are meeting in Johannesburg, the South African government news agency reported yesterday.

The meeting, attended by police chiefs, INTERPOL general secretariat and regional bureau as well as Southern African Development Community representatives, is hosted by National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega as the current chair of the organisation.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the meeting, police chiefs from Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland identified rhino poaching, drug trafficking, stock theft, smuggling of second hand goods and precious metals as well as human trafficking as the key challenges facing the region.

“We have no choice but to cooperate because criminals also cooperate at an integrated level making the crimes more sophisticated,” said Zimbabwe Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri.

Chihuri added collaborating was vital to facilitate intelligence exchange.

Swaziland's National Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula reiterated Chihuri’s sentiments, saying if one country sneezes the whole region catches the cold.

“We therefore cannot live in isolation. We live in a global world hence the need for the collaborations to ensure that our region is safe.”

Namibian Police Chief, Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, called on citizens from each country to partner with law enforcement agencies in their respective countries in order to maintain peace and order.

“The call is for the member of the region to join in the efforts to make the region safer for all of us,” he said, adding that their families, children or even neighbours can be the ones affected by the crime.”

SARPCCO was established in 1995 for police forces to combine resources and expertise in fighting transnational crime in Southern Africa. It has developed a comprehensive approach in terms of regional policing through the cooperative engagement of member countries.

Engagement included cross-border operations, joint training, “harmonisation” of legislation, and the sharing of good practices.

Their operations include the combating of illicit trafficking of vehicles, drug trafficking, the proliferation of arms and ammunition, and seeking wanted suspects as well as collaborating in peace efforts.

Representatives of member countries who attend include Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Mauritius, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Wednesday’s meeting marked their 20th annual general meeting - a ministerial meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

General Phiyega said the meeting presented an opportunity to find resolutions to advance stability and human dignity, as well as eliminate violence and terror-related activities in this region.

“Twenty years ago, the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation came into existence to combat transnational crimes that plagued our region and we are gathered here today, two decades later, to reflect on our hard work as law enforcement in the SADC region,” she said.

She said SARPCCO has shaped policies, setting the agenda for crime prevention, strengthening our relations to ensure that we enhance collaboration in our quest to secure a crime-free SADC region.