Instead of helping the police to flush out the drug dealers and illegal liquor traders threatening the lives of their children, communities are often more likely to throw stones at them.
Police raised this concern at a two-day community workshop held by the Milnerton police cluster to gauge the policing needs and priorities in its areas.
The Milnerton cluster comprises nine precincts: Table View, Melkbosstrand, Milnerton, Atlantis, Darling, Malmesbury, Moorreesburg, Philadelphia and Riebeeck West.
Community safety MEC Dan Plato, safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith, SAPS Milnerton cluster commander General Anneqah Jordaan, community police forums(CPFs), neighbourhood watches (NHWs) and residents attended the workshop at the Robinvale community hall in Atlantis on Friday September 16 and Saturday September 17. The meeting heard that the Western Cape contributed more than 30 percent of the country’s total drug-related crime.
And although substance abuse continues to be a battle for the police, they say defiance from communities they are trying to help only makes the job that much harder.
The safety plan for the Milnerton cluster, developed by the Department of Community Safety (DOCS) underscored a need for high-level police investigations of drug dealers to stop them pushing their poison into communities. More rehabilitation services were also needed for those fighting addiction.
A call was also made at the workshop to better regulate liquor outlets and shut down traders who flouted by-laws.
General Jordaan said drugs and liquor were destroying communities, but when the police acted, they were met with defiance from the communities.
“It is the communities’ children who are affected. It is the communities’ children who are going to become drug addicts. They steal their parents’ toilet paper for drugs. But when we go out and act we get stones thrown at us,” said General Jordaan.
She said there was a need to enforce the law against illegal trading and regulate business hours because shops that stayed open all hours of the night were “targets of robberies”.
General Jordaan urged the community to report police not doing their jobs. A need was identified to improve the way in which officers treat residents, “especially in the junior ranks”.
According to the safety plan, corrupt officials need to be disciplined and criminally charged where appropriate.
“We want immediate reports against members who don’t act efficiently. We don’t want to wait for an imbizo to hear that someone was rude to you a month ago,” said General Jordaan.
Funding was also on the list of needs in the safety plan. The desired objective, according to the plan, is to provide necessary support and resources to CPFs and neighbourhood watches. CPFs will be asked to register on the Expanded Partnership Programme (EPP), a Western Cape government initiative supporting CPFs, and ensure they submit reports and qualify for their full funds.
Thabo Shaku, director of the Community Police Relations directorate which forms part of the DOCS said the role of the CPR was to ensure that CPFs in the province had their full support.
“We help to establish CPFs and to support them and make sure they are fully functional,” said Mr Shaku.
Another need identified was more support from neighbourhood watches. The DOCS now offers a two-day free training course to help regulate neighbourhood watch structures in the Western Cape.
Milnerton CPF chairwoman Lianne Lippert said the two days spent in Atlantis had been well worth it.
“The coverage of the CPF roles and responsibilities and, more especially, the NHW accreditation with DoCS is very important. While it is not compulsory for a NHW to register with DoCS, it is beneficial. The new regulations now also included co-operating and working with both SAPS as well as the CPF.
“We will all be guided correctly with what is and what isn’t allowed. There are no grey areas that I can pick up, so a lot of the ‘lawlessness’ that apparently takes place will be stopped. It is so important for all entities in an area to work in collaboration with each other, especially when it comes to fighting crime. Differences should be put aside and focus on our core mandate,” said Ms Lippert.