COMMENT | Samson Tinka | In the night of 3rd July 2021, thieves scaled into the compound of one Mukasa in Nabusanke – Sseguku Katale community. Immediately the household members posted the break-in on the village WhatsApp group.
Some members on the WhatsApp group had contacts to the nearest police post at Buwenda. Police was contacted and fortunately some officers were dispatched. The thieves took off without looting, injuring or even killing any person.
This is a manifestation of effectiveness of community policing and mobilization. Like I have always said, safety and security is everyone’s responsibility and a well organized community can defeat crime without a single gun or any form of weapon.
In this particular incident, more than six people called police, as they also monitored the thieves movements from their windows and chatted on the WhatsApp group.
One of the members had even thought of releasing his fierce dogs on the thieves only to be restrained by colleagues who feared that the thugs maybe armed hence shooting at both him and the dogs.
In a neighboring community of Lower Jomayi, estate members have taken issues of security a notch high by recruiting night watch men- Asikali who patrol the whole estate from 9pm until morning. The estate families contribute money monthly to facilitate these men and also meet regularly to discuss other issues majorly rotating on security, safety and community development initiatives.
There is local estate leadership which rotates and very gender sensitive. Leadership is voluntary and neither associated payments nor remuneration is attached to it.
Some estate roads have been maintained through community resource mobilization. Sanitation is empathized and rubbish is well disposed. All these activities are done at almost no cost in terms of money but very important in terms of a safer and secure leaving conditions.
When new members come into the estate either as tenants or home owners, they are encouraged to report to current leadership, requested to join the WhatsApp group so that they can benefit but also be assimilated into the Lower Jomayi culture of togetherness.
When a member is critically ill or lost immediate relative, information is shred on the same group and quite often the members again voluntarily contribute cash and other necessities to the family affected.
Some members in the same estate practice some form of farming either within their homes or in the village nearby. Every time there is a bumper harvest, information of the agriculture produce or products on sale is shared on the group and orders are immediately taken. Hens, eggs, matooke, fruits, rabbit meat are regularly sold and bought on the same platform.
The same platform is used to report water leakages, power cuts and faults and blocked drainages. Members are always required to volunteer information especially telephone contacts of utility managers who can come in handy to deal with such challenges.
Some form of Christian fellowship groups have been created outside this WhatsApp group and women and men meet on agreed days to pray and fellowship.
Basically formation of community WhatsApp groups have literally aided in solving what would have ideally been community challenges especially the safety and security issues. Such WhatsApp groups have facilitated neighbourhood watch, community small development projects, support to the critically ill and those that have lost their immediate loved ones.
Such initiatives, when used correctly, can close security and safety gaps within the communities that we live in. There is also little or no investment in terms of personnel or financial resource, but the outright benefits are enormous.
The take aways are many and obvious. If you living in any community and don’t belong to such whatsaap groups, think again. Consider creating one as it facilitates quick responses to issues of common concern, information sharing and supports small community projects.
Police can effectively fight crime through community groups. In the absence of this WhatsApp groups, the family I mentioned before that was attacked by thieves would have lost either life or valuables.
It also confirms that when police get real information on time, its response timelines improve.
Community WhatsApp groups promote trading within the community and hence house hold incomes improve. During lockdown many families faced food scarcity either due to lack of money to buy or due to transport constraints. Therefore, selling food within the community erases transport worries for many.
These community Whatsapp leaderss have gone further to solve community wrangles and challenges – from land issues, to maintenance of water points.
Such community groups have taken on small projects which have turned out to be helpfully to the families within estates like poultry, piggery, communal opening of trenches, road cleaning. This also relieves pressure on government.
Well organized communities can fight crime decisively and can improve safety ratings through. Let’s all endeavor to form a community WhatsApp group or be part of one. Security authorities will never be close to us all time.
Safety and security is everyone’s responsibility. “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” Community and estate WhatsApp groups will remain an important initiative towards facilitating a safe and secure community.”
Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd | tindsam@yahoo