Commander under fire

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

The South African Police Service are investigating calls by Strandfontein community police forum (CPF) to have their local station commander removed.

Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula told the Plainsman yesterday, Tuesday March 5, that SAPS were investigating the matter.

Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana, provincial police spokesperson, said the matter was receiving attention from SAPS management in the province.

On Friday March 1 CPF members, residents and neighbourhood watch and victim empowerment members gathered outside the police station to hand over a memorandum, demanding the “immediate removal” of station commander, Captain Terence Malong.

At the same time, at Lentegeur police station, Andrew Lyons, chairperson of the provincial community police board, was due to meet with all of the CPF chairpersons in the Mitchell’s Plain cluster, including Strandfontein, Mitchell’s Plain, Grassy Park, Steenberg, Philippi, Lansdowne, Lentegeur and Athlone police stations, as part of a provincial community police board engagement with the cluster.

The meeting was then moved to Strandfontein police station, where CPF chairperson Sandy Schuter read out the memorandum addressed to national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole, Lieutenant-General Jula, Community Safety MEC Alan Winde and Mr Lyons.

Ms Schuter said Captain Malong did not liaise with the CPF or the community. “We want a transparent station commander who is going to build community relations; and have an interest in the community,” she said.

The memorandum also cited the alleged victimisation of CPF and SAPS Strandfontein members by the station commander.

During an imbizo with Police Minister Bheki Cele in Tafelsig in November last year, Ms Schuter asked Mr Cele for a different station commander (“Bigwig gangsters arrested: Cele”, Plainsman, December 5 2018).

She told the Plainsman the turnaround time for the matter to be resolved had lapsed months ago. “We have not had interventions time and time again and had absolutely no support or resolution,” she said.

“We are not enemies of SAPS. We want to support and work together with SAPS to ensure the safety and security of our community and demand likewise from SAPS,” she said.

Ms Schuter said their demands were in line with improving service delivery in the community.

After the memorandum handover, the CPF executive met with Captain Malong, acting cluster commander Major General Hendrik Burger, Mr Lyons, his deputy chairperson, Fransina Lukas, cluster community police board chairperson, Lucinda Evans and Strandfontein councillor, Elton Jansen.

There were 10 murders in Strandfontein last year and the police had not engaged with the community on this issue (“Nearly a murder a day”, Plainsman, February 27), said Ms Shuter.

“The partnership is broken. The CPF and community safety structures are working extremely hard but we cannot be working in isolation,” she said.

The meeting adjourned after 8pm and Ms Schuter told the crowd that there would be feedback by yesterday Tuesday March 5.

Mr Lyons told the Plainsman that Friday evening was the first time he heard the CPF’s call. “It is a very difficult matter, as Captain Malong is in the employ of the SAPS, who are guided by the labour laws,” he said.

He said the Strandfontein CPF had tabled their memorandum and thus it would be discussed with Lieutenant-General Jula and the CPF.

Captain Malong told the Plainsman he had nothing to say on the matter and that all questions should be referred to SAPS.

Meanwhile, during the meeting, police officers from outside of Strandfontein, armed with rifles and shotguns, were called in in anticipation of any violent outbursts, including the Public Order Police, and a Nyala was also on the scene.

Bernie Clarke, from Bay View, said if this was the response from SAPS, when the community is outside the police station, then they would be there every night, to ensure the safety of Strandfontein.