The Kraaifontein Community Policing Forum (CPF) has accused the City of Cape Town of pulling its support for the forum in its struggles against high crime in a low income area, while continuing to meet the Brackenfell forum, which represents a more middle class community.
The City had stopped its law enforcement agencies, including the Metro police, traffic services and law enforcement, from meeting with the Kraaifontein CPF, effectively denting the working relationship, said Kraaifontein CPF chairman Mawethu Fila, who is seething that the Brackenfell CPF continues to enjoy City’s backing.
Mr Mawethu said he believed that Kraaifontein and Brackenfell should be treated the same.
He said one would think that because more crime took place in Kraaifontein than in Brackenfell, priority would be given to the former. The latest crime statistics show Kraaifontein police precinct registered more crimes than Brackenfell in the 2014/15 financial year.
Mr Mawethu isn’t alone in his view. Professor John Cartwright, from the Centre of Criminology at UCT, who sits on the City’s civilian oversight committee on community safety, said there had been a “different” approach from the City in how it dealt with security in Kraaifontein and Brackenfell.
He attributed that to several factors, including that the Brackenfell community was wealthier and the City had limited capacity in its law enforcement agencies and an overall tight budget meant directorates jostled for the bigger pieces of the pie. Professor Cartwright said he believed there was more visible policing in Brackenfell than in Kraaifontein.
“What happens is that middle class communities, such as Brackenfell – which is mostly white, put pressure on these municipal services. Even the South African Police Services isn’t spread across equally. This is something that needs to be dealt with,” he said.
“This isn’t a deliberate policy from either the SAPS or the City,” he noted, saying it happened because the more affluent communities put pressure on the police and law enforcement agencies, something communities like Kraaifontein could not do.
Professor Cartwright, who meets up to three CPFs across the city each week, said he had written several reports and would submit these to the City when the committee’s term ended.
The 10-member oversight committee, selected by the City from communities’ nominated candidates, sits for a term of five years and consults with the City about crime-fighting prevention, Professor Cartwright said. The incumbent committee’s term began in March.
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, confirmed that an instruction had been sent out to Metro police commanders, traffic and law enforcement commanders not to attend the 60 station CPF meetings, but to attend the cluster CPF meetings, instead. However, he added, the directive had later been withdrawn by the City’s policing and enforcement services.
A new instruction went out to all three services to attend station CPF meetings, he said.
“It was also requested that the police stations need to send the invitations to the director’s office for coordination and to hold the commanders accountable for attending the CPF meetings.”
He said it was untrue that the Brackenfell CPF had been prioritised because it represented a wealthier community. The instruction, he stressed, had been applicable to all three services in all 60 CPFs within the city.
Mr Smith said last month had been the first time that law enforcement services had received a meeting request for the Kraaifontein CPF, which had been cancelled. A new date set for July 7 was accepted by the safety and security directorate.
“Regarding Brackenfell and Durbanville CPFs, meetings are attended on a monthly basis, as meeting requests are sent timeously to the staff.”
Sean McClelland, Brackenfell CPF chairman, confirmed they met each month with the City’s various law enforcement agencies. Asked about the allegation that the City was favouring Brackenfell because it represented a wealthy area, Mr McClelland said law enforcement had only been attending cluster meetings, which includes Kraaifontein, Brackenfell, Durbanville, Bothasig, Bellville, Parow and Goodwood. “I don’t believe it should be something to compare,” he said.
“Law enforcement has a massive area to monitor. Brackenfell CPF is also one of the top-performing CPFs in the province, according to statistics.”