Battling to bring CPF back from the brink

Knysna Road has been identified as a hotspot for drug dealing by the Milnerton police.

The Milnerton Community Police Forum (CPF) is “dysfunctional” because of its “zero partnership” with the police, neighbourhood watch and civic groups, says the forum’s chairwoman.

A disheartened Lianne Lippert, told a CPF meeting – its first for the year – on Tuesday February 7, that she did not know how to resolve “the lack of communication, cohesiveness and partnership required to bring the CPF back from the brink”.

About 50 people, including Ward 55 councillor Fabian Ah-Sing and Milnerton station commander Brigadier Marius Stander attended the meeting, at the Milnerton police station, where four new executive members were elected, namely: Mark Lindsell as vice chairman, Karen Visagie as secretary, Carreen Muller as assistant secretary and Hila Jonker as project coordinator.

“In Milnerton, there is, sadly, zero partnership,” said Ms Lippert.

While she had had a few “brief meetings” with the Milnerton police station commander and received some information, there was “no real partnership in the true sense of the word”.

“Residents are complaining, the neighbourhood watches are complaining and the community have every right to complain,” she said.

Until there was “real, open communication,” she said, Milnerton had little chance of accomplishing anything.

“Residents who can afford it are relying on private security services for their protection, victims of crime are turned away when trying to report crimes, neighbourhood watches are not true partners of SAPS, and there is a general lack of support in the area,” said Ms Lippert.

There were good partnerships, she said, between the police, CPFs and neighbourhood watches in Table View, Melkbosstrand, Bothasig and Edgemead that Milnerton could learn from to make the suburb safer.

For several months, the CPF has survived with only three executive members: the chairman, treasurer and a public relations officer.

However, when Ms Lippert spoke to Tabletalk, after the meeting, she sounded cautiously optimistic and said the CPF was not ready to be disbanded. “But there are a lot of changes that need to be made before we can comfortably say we are functioning properly,” she said.

Tabletalk asked Brigadier Stander what he thought about Ms Lippert’s statement about a lack of partnership and he responded with a joint statement from himself and Ms Lippert that appeared to back-pedal on some of her earlier comments.

“It may be so that CPF-driven partnerships and initiatives have not been at the desired levels over the past year. The reason cited by the CPF was that there was no appointed project co-ordinator. However since the election of the new CPF exco, this position has been filled and it is envisaged that an improvement in partnership initiatives will be forthcoming. The reference to the dysfunctionality of the CPF related to this and a number of other vacancies which existed on the CPF, and in no way referred to any breakdown in partnership between SAPS and the CPF.”

Other topics on the meeting’s agenda included a Milnerton crime report from Brigadier Stander. He said crime was down in the area, but hot spots included Freedom Way and Democracy Way in Joe Slovo, where, he said the absence of street lights made the police’s job harder.

Robberies still plagued Dunoon, Joe Slovo and Brooklyn/ Rugby. Koeberg Road and Stanbury Road were also problem areas.

Although Summer Greens had been quiet, crime had picked up in the last two weeks with several arrests for drugs and weapons.

“We see a difference in the areas where neighbourhood watches are active,” he said.

Brigadier Stander encouraged residents to speak to him if they had problems in their streets.

Also at the meeting, Ms Lippert presented a slide show about Milnerton’s street people. She noted that street people were commonly found on the stretch of Koeberg Road running through Montague Gardens; the open piece of land next to the BP garage, in Koeberg Road; Centre Point’s parking area, in Knysna Road; and the area behind the Gallery shopping centre, on William Penn Street.

“Law enforcement come in every few months, clean up the spots, and, unfortunately, within hours, the problem is back, sometimes twice as bad as before,” said Ms Lippert.

The next Milnerton CPF meeting is on Tuesday March 7 for members only. The next general public meeting is on Tuesday April 4. Email for more information.