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Add Cyber awareness, security studies to school curriculum

09 Dec 2023 at 10:33hrs | Views
Do you know your neighbour? Criminals like armed robbers, murderers, rapists, pedophiles, etc live within our communities in Zimbabwe. There is nothing frustrating like waking up to a sitting room where the television, cellphone and laptop are gone, stolen. Criminals have entered your house. Armed robbers enter your property, rape your wife and daughter and statistics say," An estimated 200,000 household unlawful entry (burglaries) occurred each year on average from 2013 to 2021. In about 30% of these burglaries, a household member is present during the burglary. In 7% of all household burglaries, a household member experienced some form of violent victimisation."
It seems as if there is never a day that goes by without a new crime being committed in the dense streets of Harare, the surrounding areas and Zimbabwe's major cities. The presence of known gangs and criminals has negatively impacted the lives of  Zimbabwe's community by instilling fear and worry onto those looking to live peaceful and righteous lives. These criminals are known, some of them are in and out of prison and still return to the communities and terrorise them.  

Zimbabwe has about 30,000 wanted criminals and Zimbabwe's justice system still has a primitive way of advising the public in cases of wanted criminals and court sermons. They  write the names of wanted criminals and display them at local police stations in this age and time of technology and social media. The world over including Interpol have developed a website where wanted criminals are published for the world to see. This has been filtered through to local areas. In countries the USA the local community policing teams publish wanted criminals within their communities on social media platforms so that they can be quickly apprehended. These are easy methods of pursuing criminals and bring quick justice. This is done as a method of informing communities and supporting other law enforcement agencies, to help identify criminals and speed the law enforcement process.  Above that in every local area in the USA there is also a register of individuals who have been arrested for pedophilia offences. Pedophiles are required to report to the local police station if they want to leave their area.

The Zimbabwe's Police General Headquarters (PGHQ)  is using social media platforms to interact and communicate with the general public but this process is not being adopted at provincial, district and police station level.  The success of using social media at the police's PGHQ should have been adopted at a lower level of the police force with the realisation that social media is of far greater use to law enforcement than ever imagined.  PGHQ has recognised that a lot of present-day crimes are attached to social media, especially whatsApp. It even seems as though some crimes are connected with social media somehow as one or all of the parties involved in a crime, be it victims, suspects or witnesses, have access to social media. Even if the minuscule possibility existed that none of the persons involved were on social media, the crime would likely be discussed on social media by people who have become aware of it or the media organisations reporting it.

What is worrying is the fact that serious criminals like armed robbers, rapists, murderers and even serious fraudsters, their photographs are not in the public domains. These serious criminals do not have their photos published anywhere on cyberspace. Even our local media houses will publish the article on the crimes that these criminals have committed and the picture of the serious criminals is rarely or never published. Media houses have journalists who are resident at local courts everyday, they take pictures and these pictures are rarely brought to the public domain. The communities, police, the courts and the media know these criminals but sadly they have decided to make their crimes known but they chose not to publish their pictures.  

However, people in general have stated that this issue of  serious crimes can be improved by bringing the government and urging the police to effectively use technology and social media platforms to make the public aware of criminals in their communities. The time has come for our law enforcement agencies to have a central database of wanted criminals available online and on social media platforms. Having a database of wanted criminals can be beneficial for Zimbabwe as a nation in several ways:
Enhancing public safety: A comprehensive database of wanted criminals allows law enforcement agencies to quickly identify and track individuals who pose a threat to public safety. It enables authorities to apprehend dangerous individuals and prevent potential criminal activities, thereby safeguarding the well-being of citizens.

Efficient law enforcement: A centralized database streamlines the process of sharing information and collaborating among different law enforcement agencies. It enables seamless communication and coordination between local, regional, and national authorities, facilitating the swift apprehension and prosecution of wanted criminals.

Crime prevention and investigation: By maintaining a database of wanted criminals, law enforcement agencies can proactively identify patterns and trends in criminal activities. This information can be used to develop strategies for crime prevention and allocate resources effectively. Additionally, the database can assist in ongoing investigations by providing valuable leads and information.

International cooperation: A database of wanted criminals can facilitate international cooperation in combating crime. Sharing information on wanted individuals with other nations helps track down fugitives who may have fled across borders. Such cooperation improves the chances of apprehending criminals and ensures that they are brought to justice, regardless of their location.

Deterrence: The existence of a robust database acts as a deterrent for potential criminals. Knowing that their identities and criminal records are readily available to law enforcement agencies can dissuade individuals from engaging in illegal activities or attempting to evade capture.

It is important to note that the establishment and maintenance of a database of wanted criminals should be done in accordance with laws and regulations governing privacy and data protection. Safeguards should be in place to ensure the responsible and ethical use of such databases while balancing the interests of public safety and individual rights. The media fraternity should insure that there is a balance and help the nation identify wanted criminals by publishing photographs of criminals as a means of protecting the nations.

Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information and Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution for Engineers.

Source - Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi
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