Goodwood police in dire need of more staff

Goodwood SAPS is pretty much in the same boat as the neighbouring Parow police station – crippled by staff shortages.

At a meeting of the Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association on Thursday February 23, acting station commander Lieutenant Colonel Hennie Rademeyer referred to a Northern News’ article (“Parow safety compromised”, February 22), saying, “We at Goodwood have the same problem.”

He said 16 police cadets had been transferred from the station in October last year, effectively taking away two patrol vehicles from each shift.

“We are relying very much on neighbourhood watches and security companies. Those 16 people could have been preventing crime,” he told residents.

He explained the logistics of attending to a crime scene, saying it required manpower and time. “It’s very hard,” he said.

Tygerberg Cluster board chairperson Lesley Ashton told Northern News that not only Parow, but all stations in the cluster (Goodwood, Bellville, Durbanville and Kraaifontein) were short-staffed.

A report from the Department of Community Safety’s policing needs and priorities workshop in September last year showed Goodwood had 104 operational members, 11 support staff, seven reservists and 22 detectives.

But the department said the figures did not show what the station’s full staff complement should be. Nor did it reveal whether detectives were included in the number of operational members.

Like Parow, Goodwood also has an acting station commander.

A month ago, Tygerberg cluster commander General Thembikile Patekile said the process to appoint station commanders was under way (“Top cop leaves Parow”, Northern News, February 8).

Addressing other issues facing Goodwood, Lieutenant Colonel Rademeyer said that since April last year, 200 vehicles had been stolen in the suburb, 49 of those were bakkies.

“That is quite a lot. If you average about R50 000 per vehicle. That’s quite a lot of money.”

He said there had been 42 arrests, and 33 stolen vehicles had been recovered this year in places such as Belhar, Kleinvlei, Khayelitsha and Langa.

Another bugbear in Goodwood is homeless people, some living in tents along the main roads and open spaces.

One resident said the trend now was for tents to be set up in trees, drawing laughter from those present.

Lieutenant Colonel Rademeyer said the cops’ hands were tied as they could not chase people away.

“This is a social problem. Where do you take them? They feel safe in the area,” he said.

But he also complained about residents giving money to beggars at traffic lights. “They won’t stand there if they’re not getting anything,” he said.

Resident Mark Raciet asked for SAPS support to deal with by-law contraventions if City law enforcement was unavailable after hours.

“SAPS can’t stand down on an issue because it’s a by-law being broken,” he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Rademeyer said some matters, such as prostitution and vagrancy, were not easy to deal with. In the case of prostitution, the police officers had to prove that a transaction had taken place.

“It’s very difficult to prove. Same with people sleeping on the streets. They have a right to be there,” he said.

The Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association will meet again at the sub-council offices, in Molteno Street, on Thursday March 30, at 7pm. Call Jacques van Zyl at 061 721 1223 for details.