Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum (CPF) cluster chairperson, Hanif Loonat, said with Mitchell’s Plain being the provincial capital for some of the most serious crimes, the precinct needs resources from safety agencies but also the support of residents to take a stand against violence.
Mr Loonat was speaking at a Policing Needs and Priorities (PNP) workshop on Friday June 3 at Retreat community centre.
The two-day consultation session was hosted by the Department of Community Safety on Friday and Saturday June 3 and 4.
Representatives of the Mitchell’s Plain SAPS, the City of Cape Town, CPFs, Community Safety Forums, faith-based organisations and neighbourhood watches attended the workshop.
Ewald Botha, spokesperson for MEC for Community Safety, Dan Plato, said the consultation session forms part of the annual determining of policing needs and priorities in the province.
“The department is hosting the sessions for all 16 police clusters between May and October this year.
“A key feature of the PNP 2016/2017 process will be the extensive training provided to neighbourhood watches and CPFs – the pulse of citizen-led safety interventions in our communities,” Mr Botha said.
The Mitchell’s Plain cluster, which includes Mitchell’s Plain, Strandfontein, Lentegeur, Athlone, Grassy Park, Lansdowne, Philippi and Steenberg had the opportunity to determine their policing needs and priorities and to contribute to the safety plan.
Mr Plato said the aim of the workshop was not only to identify policing needs but to influence the allocation and deployment of policing and safety resources.
“One of the main objectives of the PNP is to guide and influence the formulation of policing priorities at national, provincial and local spheres of government to ensure responsiveness to the policing needs and priorities of communities.
“Safety is everyone’s responsibility, not only that of the police. Last year we introduced for the first time the formulation of a practical and implementable safety plan for every cluster which is aligned to the safety needs and priorities within every community across the Western Cape, to give effect to the objectives of the PNP. The safety plans seek to increase communities’ involvement, as a whole, in taking proactive steps to help ensure their own safety,” he said.
Mr Plato said the department will address concerns around the full implementation of the Community Safety Act (CSA), its regulations and most importantly the Expanded Partnership Programme (EPP).
He said the EPP remains a very important instrument that enables CPFs to execute their statutory functions.
“The department has made R10.5 million available through the EPP to support CPF structures over the next three financial years. Key to accessing this funding remains the performance and functionality of CPFs as per Section 18 of the SAPS Act with Section 6 of the Western Cape Community Safety Act,” he said.
Mr Loonat said Mitchell’s Plain is the most challenged cluster in the province and needs more resources. “People are being injured and killed daily through contact crimes. There is a lack of support in our cluster, yet government invests money in the leafy suburbs. The Mitchell’s Plain cluster needs programmes and assistance, please don’t ignore us.
“Recently Durbanville was rated as the best CPF. I asked myself, what challenges does that CPF have? In our cluster residents are volunteering day and night in a crime-infested area,” he said.
He stressed that the department must not politicise the CPF structures as it causes division in communities. “We find that members are being marginalised and treated unfairly because of their political choice. Sadly there are schemes by people to have them removed, and that is not on. The CPF or neighbourhood watch is not a political party, it is a community structure and it is for those who have a passion and goal to fight crime. It is not a political battlefield,” he said.
Lieutenant Ian Williams, spokesperson for Mitchell’s Plain SAPS, said in Mitchell’s Plain domestic violence, assault and street robberies are the three main crimes that occur in the area.
“These are some of the prominent crimes that are occurring daily and is a concern. These sessions are important and as a safety agency we are able to identify the needs of the community.
“We are encouraging residents to join safety structures, report crime and work with the police. There are a number of ways residents can get in touch with us – there are sector commanders for each area, residents can text anonymously and can call the police station(s),” he said.
Sandy Schuter, chairperson of Strandfontein CPF, said crime has decreased in Strandfontein as residents are active in the CPF sub-forums.
“As the CPF we continuously highlight our concerns around crime to our police station. Residents complained in meetings and even protested. Eventually we received the support and crime has decreased.
“The other speakers have mentioned that community involvement is vital and in our area we can see it is effective. Street and block committees help a lot, because the police cannot be in your street 24 hours a day,” she said.