Tygerberg cluster scrutinises safety plan

One of the groups that made suggestions to be added on the CSP.

The Tygerberg police cluster held a two-day Policing Needs and Priorities consultation session to discuss a draft community safety plan (CSP).

The cluster includes Kraaifontein, Brackenfell, Bellville, Durbanville, Goodwood, Bothasig and Parow.

The plan was supposed to have been implemented in December last year but has not yet been fully adopted and the consultation sessions allow the public to give input.

The session was held at Durbanville conference hall on Friday September 2 and Saturday September 3.

The drafted CSP highlights the need for liquor licences to be scrutinised. The CSP also noted as a safety concern the shortage of police officials across the cluster.

There was a need to look at managing the resources available more effectively and there had been very “little institutional incentive to motivate officials”.

One objective of the plan is to improve the productivity and officials’ performance and their morale.

According to the plan, there was a need for SAPS station management teams to “maintain effective communication with police officials”.

A need had also been identified by the cluster for SAPS management teams to hold regular meetings with staff on the ground.

The CSP also highlighted that absenteeism needed to be tackled across the cluster. The first step of the plan is to request feedback from the station management teams on the implementation of the plan.

The cluster called for effective management at police stations; for CPFs to consider how volunteers can be recruited; and to increase the number of reservists in the cluster.

Bellville station commander Brigadier André van Dyk said Kraaifontein police have to make do with what they have and said they have the ability to emulate the success of the Bellville precinct.

Speaking at the consultation session, Brigadier Van Dyk said Kraaifontein residents and police management needed to stop complaining about a shortage of staff and “start working with what you have”.

Brigadier Van Dyk said Bellville had received 45 constables last year, but later lost the majority of them to other stations.

He said Kraaifontein police had just received nearly 50 constables along with a stabilisation unit that would focus on weekends.

Northern News heard that the unit would focus on crime-ravaged Scottsdene in particular but was not able to confirm this.

Brigadier Van Dyk said Kraaifontein police needed to follow the blueprint of his police station – by working closely with the CPF and neighbourhood watch structures.

Touching on the crime statistics, which were released on Friday, Brigadier Van Dyk commended the cluster on achieving “operational targets”.

He added that the statistics showed that the cluster is in the top two in the province.

“The simple reason for our success is the powerful partnerships we created with the 21 neighbourhood watches in Bellville. While neighbourhood watches focused on residential areas, we looked at the hotspots.”

Delivering the Emergency Medical Services report on the northern suburbs, Phumzile Papu, provincial ambulance chief, said on-duty staff members had been robbed 86 times in the last two weeks in the Tygerberg Cluster area. He said the most attacks in the cluster had been in Kraaifontein.

He said the cluster’s structures needed to tell residents that “(EMS) is not the enemy”.

He believes the main cause of the incidents is that shebeens are still open at 2am. Mr Papu said they could not just go into a community without requesting intelligence and protection from police.

“We must remember that being protected by SAPS isn’t their core function,” said Mr Papu.

He said the attacks had an effect on operations. Now EMS staff do not use their cellphones when they go into dangerous communities. They stop in “danger zones” only to pick the victim up and take them to the nearest hospital. They also inform callers to expect delays if they’re calling from these dangerous areas.

Members of the 11 neighbourhood structures working with the Durbanville Community Policing Forum failed to show up at the Tygerberg Cluster’s two-day consultation sessions over the weekend.

Tygerberg Cluster chairwoman, Lesley Ashton, and treasurer, Denzyl Smerdon, noted the absence and expressed their disappointment.

The chairwoman was particularly peeved that the Durbanville neighbourhood watches had double booked themselves, despite knowing about the cluster meeting. “This sort of thing needs to stop. Calendars for 2017 are not to clash.” The Goodwood Neighbourhood Watch also didn’t show up because they had a funeral to attend to but sent one member to relay the message.

Ms Ashton said she also didn’t see enough neighbourhood watch chairperson at the meeting.

She emphasised that the meeting had been about forging partnerships.

Ms Ashton urged structures to try to lure the youth to be active in neighbourhood watches and in CPFs.

Commenting on the crime stats, she said the Tygerberg Cluster had shone, but noted Kraaifontein had a murder problem. “We must do more social and awareness programmes in Kraaifontein.”

She said the community needed to be taught about living in unity. She said Kraaifontein police had the cluster’s backing.

Ms Ashton said she understood it was difficult for CPFs to sit in meetings every day, but she urged them to record minutes in the meetings they do have and forward it to the cluster so that it is up to speed with what everyone is doing.

Hennie Koekemoer, chairman of the Bellville CPF, called on CPFs to share ideas.

His Kraaifontein counterpart, Mawethu Sila, said they were looking at ways of making Kraaifontein a better place.

Sean McCleland, Brackenfell CPF chairman, said it was important that the Department of Community Safety and the City educate and empower CPF and neighbourhood watch structures. He said this needed to be addressed swiftly so that the structures can serve their communities efficiently.

Community Safety MEC, Dan Plato, responded by saying the department’s assistance of neighbourhood watches and CPFs had been “unquestionable”.

Mr Plato said it often proved difficult in dealing with volunteers because some of them are employed and the department couldn’t really put them under pressure.

He acknowledged “misunderstandings” in neighbourhood watch meetings, saying people often don’t really hear what was said in meetings.

On Friday, six groups were set up to discuss comments that needed to be added on the CSP.

Reporting on the comments the next morning, Amanda Dissel, the Department of Community Safety policy and research director, highlighted gaps in professional policing and said members were concerned about absenteeism among cops in the cluster.

Other things she highlighted include that:

* Members said there needed to be better communication when carrying out instructions and strategies among SAPS’ rank and file.

* There was also an outstanding issue of recruiting reservists.

* Neighbourhood watches needed strengthening.