New Lentegeur police chief wants to build trust

Newly appointed Lentegeur police station commander Colonel Umavathie Rameshwarnath, in front, with, from left, visible police commander Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Brickles, support commander Lieutenant-Colonel Wilfred Feni, and acting branch commander, Captain Morné Jackson.

Lentegeur’s new police chief, Colonel Umavathie Rameshwarnath, is planning to walk the streets of the precinct with residents and community leaders in a drive to build trust with those she and her officers protect and serve.

“We cannot do it alone. We need the community, the community police forum and all safety groups to buy into the police’s vision,” says Colonel Rameshwarnath, who took up her new post on Wednesday July 12.

Originally from Durban, she has 32 years of experience with 12 years in the Western Cape. Khayelitsha Site B, Lingulethu West and Harare police stations are among the 12 she has worked at during her career.

“Policing is all-inclusive,” she says. “It includes external and internal role-players, SAPS officers, Law Enforcement, Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers, Metro police and traffic officers.”

Colonel Rameshwarnath says she wants to build on the community relationships that have already been forged, including regular visits to schools in the area.

“We have awareness programmes at schools, 27 primary and high schools, to alert them to drugs, gangsterism and bullying.”

Lentegeur police station spokeswoman, Constable Felicia Adams, says it is not unusual for primary school pupils to cry when they see a visiting police officer.

But the aim is to replace that fear with trust so the child will grow up to be a citizen who is willing to report crime.

“We are here to protect the community,” says Constable Adams.

Colonel Rameshwarnath says the community needs to work with the police so they can do their job.

“The public must be able to speak freely to the police and have confidence in the information they share with us to make the area safe and raise awareness against crime.”

Religious institutions are welcome to invite officers to speak about crime and how they can help the police, she says.

“Officers are already involved in sports programmes in the community. We want them to interact with the police.”

Colonel Rameshwarnath says she and officers from the station will be walking through the area on Friday August 25, leaving the station at 7pm, to speak to residents about how best to keep the community safe.

Acting branch commander, Captain Morné Jackson, says it was information from residents that helped the police find the body of a Woodlands woman three months after she went missing in October last year (“Body found in shallow grave in house,” Plainsman, February 1).

Lentegeur police station celebrates its 10th anniversary later this month, having had four station commanders, including Colonel Elizabeth Hermanus, Colonel Herman Seals and Colonel Errol Merkeur.