‘We’ve got a long road to go but it is a positive road’

Mitchells Plain police station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam, pictured right, speaks to members of Mitchells Plain CPF, neighbourhood watch and block committees. Pictured with him, left, is Lucinda Evans, Mitchells Plain cluster CPF chairperson, and Captain Harry Brickles, sector commander Mitchells Plain central business district, the Town Centre and Liberty Promenade shopping centre.

Mitchell’s Plain police station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam has challenged residents to come out in their numbers to fight crime.

Speaking to about 60 Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum (CPF), neighbourhood watch and block watch members, after a joint operation between 6pm and midnight on Friday December 8, Brigadier Goolam lamented the low number of people in attendance.

“The situation in Mitchell’s Plain is infuriating but the residents of Mitchell’s Plain are not infuriated,” he said.
Twenty one young people died because of gang shootings in Mitchell’s Plain in the last month.

“My station alone has 600 people.

There is 1.5 million people living in Mitchell’s Plain, I can’t have 60 people here,” he said.

Brigadier Goolam said residents’ response to crime is to throw tantrums on social media.
“That will not solve the problem,” he said.

He thanked those who had volunteered their time for the evening but encouraged them to go back to their sectors and get more people involved.

Brigadier Goolam said he needed a mandate from the community to apply force, which could stop crime instead of everything continuing “as usual”.

“We could have stopped this thing today,” he said.

This was Brigadier Goolam’s first operation with the community following his two-month suspension.

Fourteen police officers, including Brigadier Goolam, were suspended on Monday September 18, after an internal audit reported that 15 state-issued firearms went missing from the local police station in August.

They resumed their duties on Thursday November 23.

Last week the community and police walked from the police station to known gang leaders’ houses in Rolbal and Peugeot streets, in Beacon Valley; and in Zelda, Bitou and Malva streets, in Eastridge.

Drugs, including 20 packets of tik, three units of mandrax and two units of heroin were seized after being found abandoned at Bitou and Malva streets, in Eastridge.

A roadblock was also held from 8am until 3pm when pamphlets were handed out on Baden Powell Drive, with the police, City of

Cape Town law enforcement officials, Metro police and the neighbourhood watch.
Sergeant Jerome Voegt, spokesman for Mitchell’s Plain police station, said meanwhile, a 29-year-old man who was arrested in Kudu Street, Eastridge, for the illegal possession of liquor. Members of the police’s Firearm Liquor and Second Hand unit searched the house and confiscated 74 litres of liquor.

Lucinda Evans, Mitchell’s Plain CPF chairperson, visited the Mitchell’s Plain police precinct for the first time on Friday evening, since she was elected in April this year.

Ms Evans had visited Lentegeur, Strandfontein, Steenberg, Grassy Park, Lansdowne, Athlone and Philippi police stations and Mitchell’s Plain was her last stop.

“I will be more visible and visiting everybody soon but from our side and the cluster executive is also here we want to say thank you very much to the neighbourhood watches and block watches that are here,” she said.

The cluster CPF will be having a summit, review and planning on Saturday February 24 next year at Portland High School.

Ms Evans said all executive members of the neighbourhood and block watches and CPFs, and SAPS representatives would be invited.

“We are going to look at where we were and we are going to map forward, where we are going to go,” she said. Ms Evans, who is from Lavender Hill, has being working in the NGO sector for more than 22 years and her full-time job has her working in child protection and family violence.

She acknowledged that volunteers were frustrated and said she had spent the evening observing volunteers and noted some of their comments.

“But we can only go out there and provide services to the community, when our in-house is right and stabilised,” she said.

“So, on February 24 we are going to have that deep conversations. We are going to ask the CPFs to have meetings beforehand with the blocks and neighbourhood watches, so when we come together, we are coming with solutions.

“If people have personality issues along leadership then we are not serving the community. Then those leaders, their season is over because we cannot be leading a community that is diverse and we ourselves are not diverse.

“Ek is baie eerlik if people’s seasons have come and gone we are going to be saying thank you very much and good-bye to them if we are going to start anew with rebuilding. I’m welcoming each and every person that is going to build with us,” she said.
Ms Evans thanked the police for inviting the cluster.

“We’ve got a long road to go but it is a positive road because we’ve planted a positive seed,” she said.

Ms Evans said she will be visiting operations at Mnandi and Strandfontein beaches to observe volunteers and look at their working conditions, to perhaps engage with the City of Cape Town next year on improvements.

Abie Isaacs, chairman of Mitchell’s Plain CPF, said: “We went to some of the leaders, what you call leaders, and said that the community is moeg van die geskietery, want ons kan nie die situasie van 21 lyke aanvaar nie.”

He said they had engaged with the leaders, as they were also human beings.

“Ons het nie ‘n probleem met Piet nie maar ons het ‘n probleem met wat Piet doen,” he said.

Mr Isaacs promised to have the minister or the deputy minister of police attend operations before Christmas.

“So when he speaks to the media he can say he literally felt the streets of Mitchell’s Plain. Hy’t gevoel hoe dit is om in Mitchell’s Plain te loop,” he said.

The bring Goolam Back campaign will be hosting an interfaith united celebration service at Portland church hall, in Crete Street, on Saturday December 14, from 10am until noon. For more information call 076 316 9298 or 082 887 6440.