Suspended cops back on the beat

Mitchells Plain station station commander, Brigadier Cass Goolam, in his office last week.

After two months on suspension, Mitchell’s Plain station station commander, Brigadier Cass Goolam, and 14 of his officers are back at work.

The police members resumed duties on Thursday November 23.

They were suspended after an internal audit reported that 15 state-issued firearms went missing from the police station in August. Two of the 15 were recovered and two arrests have been made in connection with the missing guns.

According to the brigadier, there has been an increase in gang violence in areas like Eastridge, Beacon Valley and Tafelsig. He warned the police plan to “go hard” on gang violence, targeting the gang leaders though tactical operations.

Speaking about the suspension, Brigadier Goolam said throughout his 35 years in SAPS he has never been suspended. “The process was challenging and disheartening. The situation left the station in a disaster and obviously this is not good. The process is not over yet, investigations are still continuing, but in the meantime there is work to be done, criminals to arrest and ensuring the safety of the people.”

Brigadier Goolam thanked the community for their support. “During this process I had no idea that I would have received so much support from the community, and I am very grateful for the people who were there for me and believed in me,” he said.

During the suspension, a group of residents formed a committee and launched the “Bring Goolam Back” campaign (“Calls for Goolam’s return”, Plainsman, October 11). Residents have been protesting outside the police station for weeks, with posters and placards, calling for the return of the station commander.

Joanie Fredericks, a member of the campaign, said they are elated about his return, especially during the critical periods of the 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children campaign and the festive season. “This is usually the time when crimes against women and children escalate.

“We know that Brigadier Goolam cares deeply about the well-being of women and children and we are secure in the knowledge that every case reported will receive the necessary, urgent response it deserves,” she said.

Ashley Potts, also a member of the Bring Goolam Back committee, said they are elated that the suspension has been lifted. “We formed the committee, led by Randal Petersen, because we believe in Brigadier Goolam, mainly because he is a great leader in the community. Over the past few months there has been an increase in gang violence and we hope that it will be tackled,” he said.

Provincial Hawks spokesperson, Lloyd Ramovha, said the criminal investigation is still under way. He suggested that the Plainsman speak to provincial police about the internal processes involved in suspensions.

When the Plainsman contacted provincial police, spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana, said matters pertaining to their staff complement are not discussed with the media.