THE Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Organisation (SARPCCO) has increased vigilance in light of reports of terrorists and armed groups attacking civilians and infrastructure in Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambiaque.
The regional police grouping expressed concern over developments in Lesotho that are threatening peace and security.
Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, who is SARPCCO chairperson, said members should unite against terrorism to foster peace and stability in the region.
He said this while addressing a virtual SARPCCO meeting on Tuesday.
“As the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, peace and security in some parts of the region is being threatened.
“Reports of terrorist-related incidents in Mozambique, Cabo Delgado Province, Muidumbe District in which more than 50 people were killed remain a cause for concern in the region.
“As a regional law enforcement body, we have increased vigilance as well as continue to share information related to Foreign Terrorist Organisations.
“It is pleasing to note that Interpol through the Anti-Terrorism Node for East and Southern Africa is working closely with Mozambique. I must reiterate at this juncture, that effective border management through maximum usage of Interpol Policing Capabilities remains central and vital to our border operations. Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) use the same borders to traverse the entire region. Curtailing the mobility of FTF should be part of our priority area in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
Comm-Gen Matanga said the region was also alive to the challenges threatening peace and security in Lesotho.
“It is pleasing to note that our police officers have remained vigilant, maintaining the much needed security to the country. However, possibilities of criminals taking advantage of the prevailing situation exist. We should therefore continue to keep our ears to the ground and strengthening our capacity for sharing information.”
Covid-19 continues to present unprecedented challenges in their countries with South Africa being the hardest hit in terms of the rate of infection and deaths.
“All member countries in the region continue to be confronted with new challenges each passing day. Like their peers across the world, some of our police officers have also been infected in the line of duty while others have sadly succumbed to the virus. Preventive measures put in place by various governmental authorities in the region have been met with different responses in our communities.
“It is worrisome that while general crime has declined during the post Covid-19 outbreak, cases of Gender Based Violence have risen sharply. As many people adhere to Covid-19 regulatory measures by staying safe and indoors, several cases of domestic violence have been recorded including fatalities. Violence can never be a signature to our challenges as humanity. Towards this end, our police organisations in the region are heightening awareness campaigns against Gender Based Violence while the Regional Bureau Harare is looking into the extent and underlying causes so as to prescribe appropriate interventions,” Comm-Gen Matanga said.
He said these are unprecedented times required extraordinary measures and governments across the region had made strides in availing social nets aimed at cushioning the citizens from a wide array of hardships.
Comm-Gen Matanga said criminals were also taking advantage by using the cyberspace to propagate their activities.
He said instances of hacking, e-mail scams and online fraud have increased and urged members to heighten awareness campaigns targeting financial institutions and citizens, among others.