Masiphumelele to get more policing

Police on Kommmetjie Road. Picture by Masixole Feni.

Pasqua Heard

15 October 2015

Following weeks of protests demanding better policing, and a number of incidents of mob justice, a satellite police station will be opened in Masiphumelele, and seven new constables have begun working in the area.

The satellite station is expected to be started over the next two weeks. “The mobile satellite police station is being equipped at the moment,” said Kathy Cronje from Ocean View Community Policing Forum.

Also, on Monday 12 October, Lieutenant Colonel “Rufie” Nel assumed duty as the new commander of the SAPS Ocean View station. The station serves the predominantly coloured township of Ocean View, the predominantly white suburb of Kommetjie, and the predominantly black township of Masiphumelele. Residents have demanded more policing following high profile murders and rapes in the township.

The need for a new station manager arose at a meeting on 9 September in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay. Deputy Minister of Police Makhotso Maggie Sotyu and the acting provincial commissioner, Major General Thembisile Patekile, held the meeting with civil society members of Imizamo Yethu, Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Fishhoek.

‘The visit came after two separate protests by Imizamo Yethu and Ocean View residents, in which they handed over memorandums to the station commanders of Ocean View and Hout Bay Police Stations,’ reads the SAPS journal online.

Cronje said, “Ocean View police station, which serves approximately 70,000 people, was insufficiently staffed. It lead to trouble patrolling the area, because with so few staff, only one vehicle could be used to react to complaints. A month ago, Deputy Minister Makhotso came and saw the horrendous state of the police station. She ordered that our station commander be removed within 48 hours. While Lieutenant Colonel Nel has already been here for two weeks, he officially started on Monday.”

Captain Angie Latchman, spokesperson for SAPS, confirmed that seven new junior constables commenced duty at SAPS Ocean View on 21 September. Another two constables are due to join SAPS Ocean View in January 2016.

In relation to the new constables, Cronje said, “If you’ve got bad management, no amount of policemen will help. You need an effective management system and enough police. I don’t think we’re fully staffed yet, but it’s a start.”

Due to the vigilante attacks that broke out in Masiphumelele over the past month, including the most recent which took place in the early hours of Saturday morning, Cronje stated that two warrant officers from other stations and Wynberg Cluster are helping SAPS Ocean View police the area.

“Wynberg Cluster have been aiding particularly at night time, because we are dealing with a very volatile situation,” said Cronje.

Lunga Mathambo, Chairperson of Masiphumelele Youth Development Forum and a resident of Masiphumelele, was able to confirm that there is greater police presence in the community, but expressed concern about their service.

“We’ve seen police at the gates and driving around the community, but we wonder if they are actually patrolling. We’re unsure of their impact, because we haven’t been told of any drug busts they’ve made,” said Mathambo.

“Last weekend, a resident of Masiphumelele found large amounts of dagga. Photos were taken and sent to the police. Then the community burnt the dagga, because there’s a general feeling that if it got into the hands of the police, it would filter back into the community. So there’s still mistrust between the community and the police,” said Mathambo.

Mathambo, who states that he does not condone mob killings, expressed the need for the community to understand how the justice system works.

Mathambo also stated that the government needs to focus on the issue of unemployment in Masiphumelele as a way of curbing crime.

“It’s important that everyone knows that once you have a community with high unemployment, you have a situation for anarchy. The government needs to come on board in this area,” said Mathambo.

There are two upcoming events taking place in Masiphumelele: