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Safety and crime prevention in the City of Kigali, like in other parts of the country, is a core element in the strategies of Rwanda National Police (RNP).

ACP Rogers Rutikanga
ACP Rogers Rutikanga

In each of the three districts that make up the city (Gasabo, Kicukiro, Nyarugenge), Police has set up strong units to combat both petty and serious crime problem, which has led to substantial improvement in both the reality and perception of safety among the citizenry.

Central Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Rogers Rutikanga, on February 27, sat down with our media team to discuss the various mechanisms that Police employs to ensure safety and security, overcome the security challenges and to enforce the law in the City of Kigali.

Q: Kigali City appears orderly and is praised as one of the safest cities in the world. What is the trick behind this?

A: There is no trick to this. Hard work is the key. More than twenty years ago, Rwandan citizens had lost confidence in the country’s ability to control crime and disorder on the streets of our cities, they were led astray – and this culminated into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. But today, the rule of law is emphasized and urban crime had been steadily dropping.

Now, there is an evident political will that puts emphasis on peaceful coexistence and a professional police force that is dedicated to enforcing order and the rule of law.

Q: How would you respond to claims that there is crime in the city?

A: Of course every city in the world has its challenges to safety and peace. The reality in Kigali is that we do have crimes related to burglary, drug abuse and smugglers, assault, auto thieves, robbers, purse snatchers, pickpockets and the like. What we have at RNP is the will, skills, professionalism, efficiency and the means to ensure that the crime rate remains as low as possible.

It is for this reason that Kigali hasn’t had a single armed robbery in as far back as I remember – and this is because Police is always alert through efficient operations and daily surveillance.

Q: Talking about crime, there are relatively high cases of pickpockets in the city; snatching ladies’ bags or wallets, vandalizing car windows to steal electronics. This is a menace to society. How are you dealing with this issue?

A: At RNP, there is nothing like a petty crime or big crime. All crimes are dealt with accordingly and each case is treated with special care. Once we get a report from the public, we immediately begin investigations.

Sometimes, the victims and members of the public provide us with the names of suspects. If our investigations correspond with information provided, we apprehend those individuals and hand them over to prosecution; but if there isn’t enough evidence, we release them and follow other leads.

Remember, police officers can’t be everywhere. Community policing has proved to be a winning ideal in this case. Cooperation with Rwandans in solving crimes is for the benefit of you, your family, your neighbors and your neighborhood.

Q: How about the challenge of drug abuse and smuggling. How has Police ensured that this problem is limited, owing to the fact that cases related to abuse of drugs are among major crimes committed in the Rwandan society especially among the youth although they have reduced, and well knowing its devastating consequences to society?

A: Many urban communities in the world are now besieged by illegal drugs, which also come with the gang-related violence, theft and other crimes like gender-based violence. On top of that, drug trafficking threatens the civility of city life and undermines youth development.

RNP has been able to control the streets and rid them of crimes committed by drug users, while at the same time we have conducted successful operations that have led to arrest of drug smugglers and confiscation of a variety of drugs. Breaking the supply chain has been the backbone in combating drug-related crimes. Many of the suspects have been arrested, prosecuted and are serving their sentences – and we also conduct destruction of confiscated drugs in the public as part of the continuous police awareness campaigns.

On top of that, we conduct sensitization campaigns in communities to educate people about the negatives associated with abusing drugs and also approach schools to prevent the youth from experimenting with drugs.

Q: One of the biggest challenges to growing cities especially in developing countries is the issue of street vendors. Kigali is not an exception, as vendors can be seen on streets. Is police fighting a failing battle?

A: As you have mentioned, growing urban cities have many challenges and the one of street vendors is a big one. They pause threats to established businesses because, we get reports from traders that those vendors operate anywhere, sometimes, even in front of businesses that sell the same products that they vend.

Some people have migrated from the rural areas to Kigali city, and yet, most of them lack employable skills. This has forced them into street vending.

Police has worked with the City of Kigali authority to ensure that there are designated markets where street vendors can join and conduct real business. Many have listened to this advice and now conduct legitimate businesses; however some have remained adamant.

But this is a continuous process; we apprehend them, take them to transit centre where they are sensitized and given tips on advantages of working in designated markets and forming cooperatives. This idea is working although we still get and detain stubborn ones.

Q: How worried should Kigali dwellers be about counterfeit currency?

A: Counterfeit currency is not practiced on a large scale in Kigali; nevertheless, RNP is wide awake to ensure that no single case goes unpunished.

We have arrested several criminals in the past and work with financial institutions and traders to ensure that timely information is provided whenever there is an issue.

However, we call upon the general public to beware of criminals who may try to offer them fake currency in exchange for services or goods. You must be vigilant and watchful. Business premises should own machines that detect fake money – and also endeavor to alert authorities whenever they are suspicious.

Q: There is also an issue of conmen!

A: You are right. When it comes to conmen and the crime of conning, individuals have an important role to play. The public must know the tricks that these criminals use and avoid them. For example, if you know that you did not participate in any lottery, why would you be excited if someone called you and told you that you are the winner of a big prize?

Police has indeed conducted many successful investigations and apprehended suspected conmen, but the investigations are usually facilitated by information from residents.

Q: Lastly, what is your message to residents of Kigali?

A: People should know that police does not fight crime alone. In order to prevent and solve crime, and keep our community safer, we must work together through community policing.

All key municipal entities such as schools, businesses, municipal government and social service providers must all work together to cut crime and violence.

Residents should also organize and join neighborhood programs in which they sit together to learn how to protect themselves, their families and properties. By working together, we can get the criminals off our blocks.

If there is any challenge, Police offers are around-the-clock services and anyone can reach us on the toll free number 112.

RNP

UM– USEKE.RW

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