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Celebration of Service
 

Using the power of community to fight crime

IBM employee serves as a member of South Africa’s Community Police Forum
 

Daniel Pediwe Sape, a project manager with IBM Global Business Services, understands personally what South Africa’s high crime rate means. “I have been a victim of crime. My house was broken into while the entire family was sleeping – my goods were stolen and stashed in a house across the street. This was only discovered after the girlfriend of one of the burglars came forward. She would have reported the crime earlier if she’d known where to turn.”

Daniel did not get all his belongings back, but the perpetrators were sentenced. This was one of many experiences that led Daniel to volunteer for the Community Police Forum. The CPF patroller program was initiated by the communities themselves and has yielded enormous results in communities across Gauteng – which is one of the nine provinces of South Africa, and encompasses Johannesburg and Pretoria Metro areas. Although Gauteng is the smallest of the nine provinces, it is the most populated, with more than 10.5 million inhabitants as of 2007, the latest year for which figures are available.

While the crime rates in South Africa are still astoundingly high, according to the South African Police Service (SAPS), they have decreased dramatically over the past five years and part of this can be directly attributed to the Community Police Forum (CPF) program.

Involving the community

According to Daniel, the need for a Community Police Forum is two-fold. “Firstly, our young democracy is characterized by lack of trust in police services. This is mainly due to the system of government that prevailed prior to the attainment of democracy. The CPF works to drive the process of redefining a police officer, as many of the township dwellers, who are predominantly black, see a police officer as someone who will humiliate them [rather than help them]. Secondly, the ratio of police to population does not allow for police visibility at all times and in all places. This requires that we educate the community to take charge of the safety of their surroundings, establishments (schools in particular), and the people.”

Daniel has volunteered for more than nine years and has worked to get the community involved in many crime prevention initiatives, including Community Patrollers and recruiting reservists. He has improved the Schools Safety programs run by youth, facilitated Victim Empowerment Centers, and is currently working on business profiling.

In addition to patrolling streets, talking with government officials, and providing general communication for partnership proposals and sponsorship opportunities, Daniel uses many of his IBM technology skills, as well. “The demand and the inroads that IT is making in every government department leaves members of SAPS in deep frustration because SAPS is still clinging to their legacy systems. Modern policing requires that Sector Managers profile their precinct policing areas and periodically report on challenges and plans. They must deliver structured reporting using word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. This is always a challenge and that is where some of my IBM skills matter. I have provided step-by-step guidance on how to develop a presentable Stations Operations Plan (SOP) both in print and presentation.”

Daniel applied for an On Demand Community Grant for PCs for the SAPS Client Service Center (CSC), the Victim Empowerment Center (VEC), and the CPF offices. “The grant was approved,” he said, “and we received four Lenovo Desktop computers. One was deployed to SAPS Client Service Center, one went to the Joint Operations Center, and the remaining two are being used by the CPF Office for Social Crime Prevention and Youth Development Initiatives.

“The latter ones are extremely important”, says Daniel, “because students who are either not graduating or dropping out of school who were never exposed to computer literacy can learn how to use a computer.” With better skills come more job opportunities and less chance for youth to go awry.

Daniel encourages other IBM employees to get involved in helping reduce crime. “The efforts and initiatives required to fight crime have become more complex, and they often involve implementation of projects requiring skills and talents that IBM employees have. Your contribution is of value and really makes a difference!”

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.