Students are joining the fight against crime by becoming "learner cops", the Mpumalanga safety and security department said yesterday.
"We want everyone to see themselves as 'police officers' and take responsibility for fighting crime in their communities," said police spokesman Nosisa Sogayise.
The Schoemansdal police station near Nelspruit appointed its first student "police commissioner" this month, Samson Zitha. Zitha is a grade 10 pupil at the Tintlontla high school.
Zitha was appointed because he "bubbled with the best ideas" on fighting crime, said the project co-ordinator, Inspector Thulani Mnizi.
Mnizi said a "learner cop" was selected from every school in the policing precinct - a grade 10 pupil from the high schools and a grade six pupil from the primary schools.
"The young people are the victims of crime, drug abuse in schools and dangerous weapons.
"They are the reasons why we have this project," he said.
The students were selected a week ago and their first meeting with police, a camping trip, will take place in a few weeks.
"The response to the programme was excellent. There is so much interest from the community, everyone is so willing to get involved. Zitha will liaise with the station commissioner about school safety issues," Sogayise said.
"He will form part of the station's crime combating forum and participate in youth forums. This will assist police to better understand the youth and change the youth's mindset about policing."
Sogayise said: "The 'commissioners' will liaise with police on issues of safety to maximise crime fighting in the area and make the youth more aware of crime. Their key priority will be to report whatever crime happens around them," she said. - Sapa