CPF battles to fill posts

Milnerton Community Policing Forum has failed to fill four vacancies during its poorly-attended annual general meeting, where the new chairman admitted the public had lost faith in the oversight body.

There were only about 20 people at the public meeting at Milnerton police station on Tuesday night November 7, when the forum’s vice chairman, Mark Lindsell, was voted in as chairman.

He had stood in as acting chairman since Lianne Lippert quit in frustration three months ago, citing a strained relationship with Milnerton station commander Brigadier Marius Stander (“CPF leader quits,” Tabletalk, September 6).

Hila Jonker, who ran the projects portfolio, is now vice-chairman. Andrew Mentor remains treasurer.

But there is no new blood on the forum, and despite Ms Jonker and Mr Lindsell changing positions, four posts still need permanent appointments: secretary, assistant secretary, public relations officer (Mr Lindsell will take on this role temporarily) and projects manager (temporarily filled by Ms Jonker).

The CPF has resorted to temporarily filling the secretary post with a police officer – Milnerton police station’s media liaison Captain Nopaya Madyibi, who was nominated by Brigadier Stander.

The rest of the posts were filled temporarily by members of the public who volunteered as additional members on the executive committee.

Mr Lindsell said the community had lost faith in the CPF and that needed to change.

“We cannot go round and round in circles. We need to find volunteers who can make a difference in the committee. We have a lot of work to do as a committee to gain the community’s confidence,” he said.

Ideally, he said, the committee should have representatives from all the areas the CPF covered, including Dunoon and Joe Slovo, so that they all could have a say in its decisions.

Mr Lindsell said an often-asked question was why the Milnerton CPF was not more like Table View CPF, which was seen as well organised, well equipped and very effective.

“Table View CPF was established from a wealthy less diverse demographic population in the main.”

Without the “fundamental demographic problems” Milnerton faced, Table View CPF had been much easier to establish.

When she resigned earlier this year, Ms Lippert told Tabletalk she had been blocked at every turn from doing her job and had been accused of being untrustworthy and negative towards the police whenever she had raised issues about Milnerton SAPS.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato’s spokesman, Ewald Botha, said the department was aware of the issues dogging the Milnerton CPF and it was helping where it could.

“CPFs – at any level – play an extremely important role when it comes to keeping the police accountable to the people and communities they are supposed to serve. It is also important that CPFs must always remain community focused, free of political interference and gate-keeping, where only the interests of a few are served,” said Mr Botha.

As statutory bodies established in terms of the South African Police Service Act, CPFs, said Mr Botha, were first and foremost a “community entity under the police” that had “a very important oversight mandate”.

The department supported the CPFs with funding, training or resources, he said,”as per the Western Cape Community Safety Act through the Expanded Partnership Programme”.