67 new cops on the beat

At the back is Lentegeur police station's Captain Shawn Whiteman. In front, from left, station commander Colonel Errol Merkeur,Lentegeur Community CPF chairman Byron de Villiers, station spokeswoman Constable Felicia Adams, CPF deputy chairperson Kaamilah Ismail and station visible police head, Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Brickles.

Mitchell’s Plain police stations were allocated a total of 67 new constables to bolster service delivery.

Lentegeur police station received 51 recruits fresh from police college, Strandfontein police station, one and Mitchell’s Plain police station 15.

Byron de Villiers, chairman of Lentegeur Community Police Forum (CPF), said this bump in human resources came after a number of requests. “We are now going to need more vehicles,” he said

The constables will work shifts in the crime prevention unit and the detective branches.

Mr De Villiers said they were on track to set the partnership between SAPS and the CPF right, as they would like to combat dishonest and corrupt police officers.

He spoke to the Plainsman on Monday February 3, hours before three residents spoke out at Premier Alan Winde’s address of the Western Cape Safety Plan at Northwood community hall, in New Woodlands, calling for Lentegeur police station to close (see story on page 4)).

The residents accused cops of being in the pockets of gangs and deliberately not responding to call-outs.

Speaking to the Plainsman on Friday January 31, on the eve of marking fourth months since being deployed to the station, Lentegeur police station commander, Colonel Errol Merkeur, said he had already put measures in place to involve residents in community policing.

“I would like the community to feel a part of policing,” Colonel Merkeur said.

He called on residents to join the CPF and neighbourhood watch, to patrol their area. “Without them (the community) we cannot make the difference. The community need to speak up and we will have a mutual approach to reduce crime in Lentegeur, which is our goal,” he said.

Colonel Merkeur said Lentegeur was a vulnerable area, with several drug outlets but in recent months the station had seen a reduction in its murder rate.

“We would like to involve the community in our policing strategy and bridge the gap between the police and the community,” he said.

“We want to serve the community in terms of the constitution. To ensure we respond to call-outs,” he said.

Since acting station commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Brickles, was in the hot seat relations between the community and the police had improved.

Colonel Merkeur said if police officers did not respond to residents’ calls then they must go see him. “I will deal with any complaints of service delivery,” he said.

According to national crime statistics released in September last year, Lentegeur police station had 32 more murders than it did in 2018, an increase of 84.2%.

There were 38 murders in that year and 70 last year (“’Plain still tops in crime”, Plainsman, September 18, 2019).

Lentegeur police station was opened in March 2013 and has since had three different station commanders, namely Colonel Elizabeth Hermanus, Colonel Herman Seals and now Colonel Merkeur.

Abie Isaacs, chairman of Mitchell’s Plain CPF, welcomed more boots on the ground. “The deployment of recruits is a good initiative, especially as Mitchell’s Plain is one of the ten priority stations in the country,” he said.

Mitchell’s Plain had the 13th highest murder rate in South Africa and was number one in the country for drug-related crime, common assault, sexual assault, malicious damage to property and the illegal possession of guns and ammunition.

The statistics track crimes nationwide from the beginning of April last year to the end of March this year.

At the end of last year the station received 10 new vehicles, including twin cab vehicles, which the station’s newly established Proactive team drives in various areas (“New force on ’Plain streets”, Plainsman, January 28).

Sandy Schuter Flowers, Strandfontein CPF chairwoman, said she could not understand why they only received one constable.

“It makes me wonder what feedback from the station is being presented to the office of the provincial commissioner, that it was deemed fit to send Strandfontein one person.

“Taking into consideration the high volume of drug trafficking, the growing numbers in gang activity, we have an increase in crime in Strandfontein that seems to have been sugar-coated,” she said.

They have one patrol vehicle, policing the entire community.

Often they have two or three members on duty, making it impossible to patrol and be visible.

“When there is a murder, that single patrol van has to stand down at that crime scene for four hours or more, leaving the rest of the area vulnerable.”

Ms Schuter Flowers said they have to draw resources from Mitchell’s Plain to assist if another crime happens within that period,

“This is a gross injustice to our community safety. The community of Strandfontein is always complaining about the lack of visibility due to the lack of resources. With this being said, we have visible police members putting in straight transfers to other stations without them being replaced,” said Ms Schuter Flowers.

As part of the SAPS firearm amnesty campaign, South African citizens can drop off their unlawful and unwanted firearms with no questions asked at their nearest police station by Sunday May 31.

For more information about this campaign, call Mitchell’s Plain police station on 021 370 1711, Lentegeur police station on 021 377 5008 or Strandfontein police station on 021 370 1501.

You may also call the Central Firearms Register (CFR) on 012 353 6111, report corruption on 080 070 1701, 086 001 0111 or on the MYSAPS mobile app.