‘Hear our pleas’

Mitchell’s Plain residents challenged Premier Alan Winde to be accountable, to hear what matters to them and gave input to the provincial government’s safety plan.

They discussed the plan at a public meeting at the Northwood community hall in New Woodlands on Monday February 3.

Gerald Daniels, vice-chairperson of the New Woodlands Ratepayers’ Association, said last February they attended a meeting with mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, and Mayor Dan Plato.

He said the meeting ended with a walk-about, where residents showed them drug houses and what was needed to make the community safer.

“What has happened since? Nothing. I have listened to your beautiful speeches, which I have taken with a pinch of jam, which I can’t eat because it is too sweet. I have diabetes,” he said.

Mr Daniels echoed the sentiments of Mariam Othman, also from the association, who asked whether the meeting was another talk shop.

She pleaded for help to get children off the streets and back into school. “Our children are out of school. We need the Department of Social Development (DSD) back in schools,” she said.

Ms Othman said children as young as 10, were smoking dagga in the park across from her home.

She had taken an 8-year-old, with a behavioural disorder to Lentegeur police station, for a policeman to speak to him but was told he could not speak to him in uniform.

She said many families lived in backyards and parents could not reprimand their landlords about their illegal activities. “So, we rather keep our children indoors but they need to be outdoors to learn and play,” she said.

Michael Jacobs, vice-chairman of the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA), said gang violence and substance abuse were public health concerns. “We need access points and personnel to assist people with substance abuse. We need public mental health interventions,” he said.

Mr Jacobs said neighbourhood watch members were being used during election campaigns. “They have been captured politically and neighbourhood watch members are supposed to be apolitical.”

He said this politicisation of members has divided the community and has seen a rift in community organisations working together towards a common goal.

Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman, Abie Isaacs, asked why the South African Police Service (SAPS) were not present at the meeting.

He said while the provincial government was trying to implement the safety plan the national government has an intergovernmental relations (IGR) framework, dealing with the importance of interactions between government departments, at all levels.

Mr Isaacs said CPFs were not included in the plan and has seen little or no support from the provincial government. “The CPF is your legislated body, who has oversight of the relations of the police and the community,” he said.

Morrice Kok, chairman of Woodlands Residents’ Association (WRA), said the provincial government always came to the public with new plans but asked when feedback would come, including what has worked and what could be done better.

The Plainsman put the allegations of corruption and laziness to Lentegeur station commander, Colonel Errol Merkeur, who invited residents to call him on 082 778 6632.

Constable Felicia Adams, spokeswoman for the station, said five officers attended a shooting complaint at 12 Nita Spilhaus, New Woodlands, at 6.20am yesterday, Tuesday February 4. “On arrival nobody was found at the address,” she said.

Constable Adams said sector commander Jasmine Brooks reportedly spoke to some of the community members, but no information could be obtained to open a case.

“Nobody could give a description of a car, the shooters and no complainant was found. No visible damages were found, and no injuries were reported,” said Constable Adams.

Social Development MEC, Sharna Fernandez and Community Safety MEC, Albert Fritz, who accompanied Mr Winde, responded to questions and suggestions.

Ms Fernandez agreed that truant officers had to return to the beat.

Mr Fritz said that community centres should be opened after school to occupy children, teach them skills and see them excel beyond the borders of South Africa.

Responding to calls to have Lentegeur police station closed down because officers were allegedly in the pockets of gangs, Mr Fritz said these allegations needed to be investigated and that they would approach the police ombudsman to investigate police inefficiency and breakdowns in the relationship between communities and SAPS.

Mr Winde said every provincial department has a designated responsibility to the safety plan, which is a working document, which could include suggestions from anyone, wanting a safer community.

The safety plan includes 3 000 new law enforcement officers to be deployed to various hot spots, determined by data-led technology; and 150 new investigators to prepare dockets for prosecution, and a world-class, evidence-led and integrated violence prevention programme.

According to the plan, each MEC will champion safety priorities, which would contribute to the overall goal of reducing murder and encouraging a province where all citizens feel secure and can “live free from fear”.

To ensure mutual accountability, progress on each intervention will be measured through reporting on agreed-upon indicators, which will be done at a six-weekly “safety cabinet”.

National departments and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster will be invited to attend to foster mutual collaboration and provide relevant crime-related data, which will aid stakeholders to bolster their outcomes.

Mr Winde said the province has pushed the boundaries of its oversight powers over policing.

Hot spots would include the 10 police stations in the province, where the murder rate was above 50 percent. The strategies adopted in the plan are informed by evidence and will be implemented using data and technology.

“Progress will be monitored and evaluated at the highest level to ensure expected outcomes are achieved, with change measured regularly against set metrics (or outcomes or indicators” agreed upon by each MEC,” he said.

The plan, with the support of the City of Cape Town, is due to be launched on Sunday February 9.

The first 500 learner law enforcement officers, who have signed contracts with the City, will be deployed to various hot spots on Monday February 10.

In their first few months of deployment the officers will receive an induction which includes in-field training to orientate them in the communities where they will be deployed.