No manpower at Milnerton SAPS

Countrywide there is growing public frustration with the chronic lack of police resources, and the situation is no different in Blaauwberg.

However, while some stations seem to be trying to work around the challenges by roping in public support where possible, there is despair in the Milnerton precinct where Milnerton Community Police Forum chairwoman Lianne Lippert says the manpower shortage is aggravated by police management’s apparent reluctance to work with the community.

“There is a definite lack of manpower at our station, and what little there is, is deployed to the two most problematic areas (Dunoon and Joe Slovo).

“The reservist and/or volunteer programmes are not a priority at the station – in fact, I haven’t seen any calls for assistance at Milnerton SAPS,” she said.

“Crime is indeed increasing, but due to the lack of assistance when SAPS is called, the neighbourhood watches are demoralised and reluctant to keep up their efforts,” she said.

Similar words were expressed by Ms Lippert while talking to Tabletalk earlier this year about the relationship between Milnerton CPF and Milnerton SAPS (“Battling to bring CPF back from brink,” Tabletalk, February 15).

Tabletalk tried to contact the station commander by phone and email on August 11. On August 15 the station confirmed that they had received our emailed questions, but by the time this edition went to print, they had not responded to those questions.

Table View police management appear to be more willing to work with the public to find solutions to logistical problems.

At an imbizo in June, Table View police station commander Colonel Dirk Vosloo stressed the importance of these public-police partnerships (“Participation is key, says cops,” Tabletalk, July 5).

He has again called on the public to help, this time with ancillary duties at the station.

“The volunteers we are calling for is to assist us with admin duties, such as certifying of copies and commissioning of statements. Volunteers will be screened and then appointed as commissioners of oath.”

He hopes this will improve service in the charge office, allowing police officers to focus on more pressing duties, such as taking statements to register criminal cases.

Table View CPF chairman David Harris said they had “a great community partnership” with the police and worked closely with them as well as street committees, neighbourhood watches and armed-response firms.

However, he complained that there simply weren’t enough police officers in Table View.

Indeed, DA Western Cape spokesman on community safety Mireille Wenger said Table View, with one officer for every 603 residents, was one of the 21 police stations in Cape Town that had less than one officer for every 500 residents in the precinct.

Samie Kleynhans of the Melkbosstrand Community Policing Forum (CPF) said it was vital for all crime-fighting agencies to work together “but more importantly, that we work smarter. Lack of resources is no secret and this is precisely the reason why we need to work smarter.”

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato’s spokesman Ewald Botha said last year’s Provincial Policing, Needs and Priorities Report showed 66% of respondents have confidence in the police but only 38% believe the police have the resources to do the job.

The knock-on effect of that is that only 58% of people feel safe on the streets during the day (the figure drops to 35% at night).

In contrast, the respondents had a lot of faith in neighbourhood watches with 84% believing they contribute most to safety in communities while 68% agree that CPFs hold the police accountable to communities.

Mr Plato said the figures showed that crime-fighting plans could not afford to leave the public out of the mix.

“Our safety and crime prevention initiatives have to follow a coordinated and integrated approach. Emphasis needs to be placed on cooperation, joint planning and implementation in an attempt to address the policing needs and priorities locally, as well as to influence the alignment of all safety resources to the policing needs and priorities in all areas,” he said.