Police ignoring lockdown complaints, says watch man

Bellville police on patrol

Police are ignoring residents’ complaints about vagrants, prowlers and people breaking lockdown regulations, says an Oakdale Neighbourhood Watch member.

Tommy van Zyl, of the Oakdale Neighbourhood Watch, says police aren’t taking the complaints seriously.

 “We have a serious issue of vagrants and wall jumpers in the area, yet when we call the police for assistance we get no answers and are told that we must contact 10111 instead of the Bellville police station. I called 10111 to complain about a trespasser and I was asked why am I bothering the national line with a local issue. All we want to know is who do we call?” 

Mr Van Zyl said the police’s claims that crime was down were contradicted by the residents’ complaints on social media and by what he was seeing and hearing in the community.

“According to reports that you read, crime has dropped but the criminals are still walking around. Prostitutes walk all around the area like it’s nothing while there is a case of theft from vehicle almost 48 hours. The closer you get to Voortrekker Road the busier it gets. Near the long-distance bus terminus in Mabel Road it is so busy with people walking around and committing crimes. I have seen the incident maps for that area, and it looks like a chameleon with all the different crimes that happen there.” 

Mr Van Zyl said he had tried unsuccessfully to get answers from the Bellville police and the Bellville Community Police Forum.

“Even the SAPS area commander, who is in our WhatsApp group tells us nothing, and when we attempt to reach out to the CPF, we get shut down. It really is a problem because we do not know what is going on. This not only affects us now but it will also affect the future as the level of trust between the watch, the CPF and the police is being damaged, at the moment it is non-existent.”

Bellville CPF vice-chairman Jean Beukman said they had had no formal complaints about police ignoring crimes, but he confirmed that residents had been advised to contact 10 111 instead of the local police station.   

“If you take into consideration the current lockdown situation, most of the Bellville SAPS members are stationed at roadblocks and in patrol vehicles. This leaves only a few members at the police station and in the community service centre to assist with calls and walk-ins from the community. Therefore, the community have been asked to call 10111 for assistance where they will also be given a reference number for follow up afterwards.” 

Mr Beukman said they were doing all they could to address residents’ complaints about community movement, vagrants and property crimes such as trespassing and thefts from cars. 

Bellville police spokesman Captain Johnathan Blankenberg said: “Our officers are out there every day, risking their lives and working themselves to the ground in order to keep people safe. They leave their homes and their families to do this job just so that others can be safe.

“I am really proud of the effort and work being done by our officers during this lockdown period, and we hope that the community is appreciative of our efforts. Every matter that is reported is being investigated, yet any allegations that we are not doing our jobs will also be investigated and a solution will be found.”