Neighbourhood watch accuses cops of neglect

An “invisible line” divides Brooklyn between two police precincts, neither of which serves the neighbourhood adequately, say residents.

Brooklyn is split between Maitland and Milnerton police stations. Part of Justin Street towards the N1 falls under Maitland SAPS while the other part of the street towards Milnerton falls under Milnerton SAPS.

Brooklyn Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch members claim that last Friday morning both police stations left them in the lurch.

According to watch member Patrick Fester, a member of the public approached two watch patrollers in Sheridan Street to report two men doing drugs on the corner of Koeberg Road and Sheridan Street.

The patrollers gave chase, but the drug users got away, leaving behind drug paraphernalia, several cellphones, tools, knives, scissors and a machete, said Mr Fester.

The watch members also found a stolen ID card and traced its owner.

“We did a bit of googling and came across a post in Plettenberg Bay of a woman’s cellphone that was stolen along with her ID card and driver’s licence,” said watch member Peter Landsberg.

But according to Mr Fester, neighbourhood members risk being charged with theft if they remove “belongings”. And he said the Milnerton police officers who came out said they also couldn’t take “personal belongings”.

“Our control room then called Maitland SAPS, but they said this was a Milnerton SAPS matter,” said Mr Fester.

Eventually after waiting several hours, the neighbourhood watch members took the drug paraphernalia and weapons and booked it in at Maitland SAPS.

Residents have previously complained about a lack of law enforcement in the area, saying gangsterism and prostitution are rife as a result.

Last month, the Brooklyn community was shocked by the murder of 23-year-old Heinrich Korunner who was shot a few streets away from his home (“Crawling home to die,” Tabletalk, May 15).

At a meeting on Thursday May 23, residents accused the police of not doing enough and said SAPS deficiencies should not be made their problem.

“Sheridan Street has been a headache for a long time. People are shooting up there and the authorities don’t want to intervene,” said a resident.

“We feel Brooklyn has been forgotten. We are split between two stations and they have to work together,” said another resident.

Brooklyn resident Cheryl Castle said she had sent a letter listing the community’s complaints to Milnerton cluster commander, Major General Aneeqah Jordaan but was still awaiting a response.

Mr Landsberg said Friday’s incident was an example of the issues raised at the meeting.

“The community is being sidelined by the police not wanting to help. Police stations not wanting to cross over the so-called ‘invisible boundary’ in Brooklyn because it’s out of their jurisdiction.

“Yet the national policing act says there are no boundaries,” said Mr Landsberg.

Captain Louis Solomons, from the Maitland police station, said the police could not refuse anyone help.

“We can’t turn people away. If someone opens a case at our police station but it falls under Milnerton SAPS it is our responsibility to transfer it to that station,” said Captain Solomons.

The same applied to calls they received from areas outside of their jurisdiction.

Maitland SAPS could put a complaint on the system or contact Milnerton SAPS on the radio, he said.

He said Maitland SAPS only patrolled up until Justin Street, but that did not stop them from assisting beyond their boundaries if they saw something.

Milnerton police station commander, Brigadier Marius Stander, said the public should be helped at a police station “irrespective of where the crime occurred”.

He added: “I would encourage anyone who has not been assisted to contact the station and provide specific information of the incident in order that appropriate corrective measures can be put in place.

“The issue regarding interaction of both stations with the Brooklyn Neighbourhood Watch has been identified as being problematic since the area of activity of the neighbourhood watch straddles both station precincts.

“Plans are, however, afoot to address this by means of joint meetings, involving representatives of both stations and the watch.”