At a crime imbizo held in Browns Farm, Philippi last week, Nyanga SAPS introduced their new station commander, Colonel Siphiwo Sithonga to residents – and also created a platform for them to raise their concerns.
The station’s previous station commander, Brigadier Vuyisile Ncatha, left after being promoted to Major General and taking up a district commissioner post in the Eastern Cape (“‘Community policing champion’ set to leave Nyanga SAPS”, Vukani, June 30).
At Friday evening’ meeting, police, the community policing forum, and the neighbourhood watch discussed ways in which they could work with the community to try and reduce crime in the area. Also in attendance were representatives of the police youth desk, cluster commanders and church leaders.
The imbizo follows a meeting that was held between the new station commander and the stakeholders to discuss how they could work together to eradicate crime in the area. At the top of the list of community demands to the police are calls for solutions to the area’s challenges with crime, alcohol, and drug use.
Residents also raised their complaints about youth, as young as 14, who stone cars especially those making deliveries in the area.
Colonel Sithonga said the station’s limited resources, posed a major challenge and appealed to the residents to work with the police.
“Nyanga, like all other areas, has challenges. The main challenge is contact crimes, murder hijacking and robbberies,” he said.
“It is among the 30 areas that are on a red dot. Most police do not even want to work here because of the crimes. My plea to you is to work with us hand in hand. I am appealing to you as a community who is affected. We have limited resources so we cannot be in every corner of the street,” he said.
Recently, the Western Cape Government Health and Wellness raised concerns about criminal incidents which led to the closure of Zabantu Community Day Centre where its staff were robbed of their belongings by young people.
Colonel Sithonga also raised concerns about the number of robberies of delivery vans especially those who are driven by white people and violent crimes in the community. “Once they see a car driven by a white person, the (driver is) stoned and followed,” he said, adding that perpetrators were often as young as 14 years old.
“Lots of robberies are perpetrated by school going boys. Please allow us to go to school and tell them that should they be arrested they will have a criminal record that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. We’ve also seen children dying in taverns. That is bad. Another challenge is that of illegal shebeens and compliance,” said Colonel Sithonga
Cluster 4 chairperson Andile Madondile said recently there had been a number of carjackings, house robberies, business robberies, assaults, street robberies and murders in Browns Farm.
And he reminded the community that they should shoulder some of the blame because in many cases, they know who the culprits are.
He however said the community should also take a blame because they know the culprits. “We wanted to urge the community to work closely with police to fight crime. We have brought the new station commander so you can share with him your challenges. But we need to be honest to him that police alone will never fight and defeat crime. They need our help and assistance.
“Some of the crimes that are happening, we are fully aware of the culprits. We also know who sells alcohol and drugs in our areas. We cannot depend on police to fight crime that is happening in our areas,” he said.
Reverend Mawande Lugongolo who was at the meeting, said there were existing initiatives that could help mend the relationship between the community and the police, among them a youth desk to help young people with their issues and concerns.