AGM moratorium lifted

Eugene Cloete, from Recife Block Watch and Maggie Carolus, from Strandfontein Neighbourhood Watch, speak to police outside Strandfontein police station.

Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata, provincial Department of Community Safety (DOCS) and the provincial community police board have agreed to lift the moratorium on community police forum (CPF) annual general meetings.

Mitchell’s Plain CPF’s AGM was initially set for last night, but because of the moratorium only being lifted last week, they had been advised by DOCS to postpone.

Strandfontein CPF has also decided to postpone their AGM, which was due to take place tomorrow, while Lentegeur CPF was due to propose a date for their AGM last night, Tuesday February 10.

The three safety entities met on Thursday February 6 to discuss the way forward.

In a statement, Lieutenant General Matakata said AGMs must be conducted in a spirit of inclusivity of all community-based organisations in the particular area.

“Should any dispute arise about voting rights, the station commander must, in consultation with a representative from DOCS attempt to find an amicable resolution.

“If this is not possible, then the process must be suspended and the matter escalated to the provincial commissioner and the head of DOCS,” read the statement dated Friday February 7.

The CPF uniform constitution will serve as a guiding document for the election process, which must be concluded before Tuesday March 31.

Lieutenant General Matakata instructed all cluster commanders to ensure that all CPF chairpersons and station commanders are informed about these agreed upon points.

Last Monday, February 10, outgoing Mitchell’s Plain CPF chairman Abie Isaacs, following Premier Alan Winde’s address on the province’s Safety Plan, asked about the status of CPFs and what support was available from DOCS (“‘Hear our pleas’,” Plainsman February 5).

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz responded by saying he would be meeting Lieutenant General Matakata and provincial board chairperson Fransina Lukas.

In response to questions from the Plainsman, Cayla Ann Tomás Murray, spokesperson for Mr Fritz, said that according to the constitution each province was entitled to promote good relations between the police and the community.

“In this regard, the Department of Community Safety partners CPFs. CPFs are obliged to exercise oversight over the police, based on the South African Police Service Act of 1995,” she said.

Ms Murray said it was with this in mind that DOCS implemented the Expanded Partnership Programme (EPP), which is a system whereby CPFs can apply a structured approach to oversight at its local policing precincts.

The department does not have oversight over CPS.

“Rather, the department strives to strengthen community partnerships and assist CPFs to fulfil their oversight role over the police,” she said.

DOCS is mandated in terms of Section 6 of the provincial Community Safety Act of 2013 to formally accredit and support neighbourhood watches. This was promulgated and the Regulations for Neighbourhood Watches approved on September 2, 2016, which came into effect about a month later.

All compliant neighbourhood watches are thereby entitled to accreditation and certification; training; resourcing and funding for accredited structures; and reporting of neighbourhood watches.

Neighbourhood watches may register with their local CPF and would be in touch as an affiliate.

Ms Murray said neighbourhood watches are autonomous, as legislated in the Western Cape Community Safety Act (WCCSA).

Street committees and or block committees may apply for accreditation to DOCS but it should be noted that accreditation is voluntary. If they are accredited, then they will be regulated by Section 6 of Western Cape Community Safety Act of 2013.

Ms Murray said DOCS and the City of Cape Town have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to support accredited neighbourhood watches.

DOCS provides a standard starter kit to accredited watches throughout the province, whereas the City provides additional resources to accredited neighbourhood watches.

Mitchell’s Plain has 11 accredited neighbourhood watches; Lentegeur has four and Strandfontein does not have accredited watches.

Ms Murray said the CPFs were monitored through the EPP, whereby CPFs submit reports to the department every month.

The EPP is used as a tool to measure functionality.

During the 2018/19 financial year, the functionality, according to the department, of the three CPFs was as follows: Mitchell’s Plain, Strandfontein and Lentegeur CPFs are functional but the latter did not submit an EPP report for the financial year in 2019/20.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith gives accredited neighbourhood watches reflective vests, bicycles, flash lights, whistles and hand-radios.