Ver Angola

Society

Police recommend private security to protect churches from assault

The Angolan National Police spokesman admitted that crimes committed against religious institutions in the country are a concern and recommended the use of private security companies, as prevention must come from the citizens.

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Orlando Bernardo reacted to the concern expressed by Catholic bishops in the face of the increase in crime levels in the country, with emphasis on the attacks that religious institutions have been suffering.

"Of course, this is very worrying," said Orlando Bernardo, in the presentation of the public security situation between August and September in the country, dismissing that they are actions directed specifically against the Catholic Church.

"Crime, sometimes, is an opportunity, I don't believe that they are elements that decided to attack the churches, but if they find vulnerability in these institutions, it is natural for that to happen", he said.
The police officer stressed that, regardless of the responsibility of the security forces, "it is essential that, in the context of general prevention, they also take care a little of what self-protection is."

"Because we have very low police coverage and it is natural that in some places we are unable to protect everything, which is why there are private security services, also to give a little help to the police forces", he stressed.

In Angola, according to the National Police spokesperson, the police/citizen ratio is one effective for more than 1500 people, in the particular case of Luanda province.

The police spokesman stressed that the churches "are suffering crimes, as all citizens have been suffering".

"What we need to do is find mechanisms to resolve this, first, with that form of prevention, which is the issue of primary protection," he suggested.

"I think that measures are being taken so that these facts do not happen again, but, for example, the Catholic Church has many churches, can you imagine if we had to put police in all this?", he observed.

Orlando Bernardo defended proximity policing, recognizing that the Angolan police are not yet prepared for this collaboration.

"We are not a police sufficiently prepared for this collaboration with the citizen, this has been improving every day", he admitted, adding: "Many police leave the society we have and bring a series of evils that should be dealt with and sometimes are not enough and this also scares the citizens away from the police stations".

However, he highlighted the institution's efforts to improve this relationship.

Last week, the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST), meeting in an ordinary assembly, criticized the high level of crime and insecurity in the country, which last year affected more than 60 institutions of the Catholic Church.

According to the then president of CEAST, Filomeno Vieira Dias, in 2020 more than 60 institutions – parishes, schools, health centers, parish and religious residences – were robbed, some "within two steps" from police units.

According to the bishops, insecurity in the main urban centers has reached the highest levels, with the statements of citizens to the media "a mixture of despair, fear and revolt, a cry crying out for help, as violence takes over the cities and scares people".