Residents call for better police service

Advocate Vusi Pikoli encouraged residents to know their rights and always report police inefficiency.

Khayelitsha residents want the minister of police and police officers to be efficient when dealing with crime.

During a week-long dialogue organised by Social Justice Coalition (SJC) last week, a call was made for the public, police, community policing forums and neighbourhood watches and other crime stakeholders to work together.

Various community organisations and individuals made presentations at the first joint community meeting, themed Policing the Police.

It was agreed that crime is everybody’s business and there should be a partnership between the public and police.

Among those at the event were Western Cape Police Ombudsman Advocate Vusi Pikoli, the head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) in the province Nyaniso Ngele and Khayelitsha police cluster head, Major General Johan Brand.

Head of security and health at the SJC, Chumani Sali said the aim of the dialogue was to deal with the community’s concern about poor policing and crime in the area.

He said residents met to discuss what they can do to protect their areas and work with police.

Mr Sali said his organisation resolved to open up lines of communication between the public and government departments that deal with crime during the week-long dialogue that saw residents airing more grievances than solutions.

He added that topics discussed included where police facilities were located and what skills the police officers had.

“We want them (government departments) to commit.

“The government departments must tell us what they are doing regarding crime and the role we can play as a society. The meeting was successful in terms of getting people to speak and explain themselves to the public.

“It was an eye-opening and amazing meeting. SJC is here to advocate for proper and efficient policing,” he said.

Panelists raised issues such as a shortage of staff, non-payment of staff, dilapidated infrastructure, poor human resource management, a shortage ofequipment, staff fatigue, incorrect pay tiers, shortfalls of leadership and management, facilities going without water, issues with retaining health professionals, and inadequate incentives.

In all presentations, they begged the department to lend an ear and hear them out on issues which they may also suggest solutions.

Mr Pikoli said his office is new and it needed these types of dialogues to take place.

He said in the past couple of months they have been creating awareness about their work.

“The mandate of the office is to investigate police inefficiency and public complaints. We deal with police unavailability on the crime scenes. We are different to the IPID. We deal with poor service delivery. We do not investigate criminal issues. We also want to forge a partership between police and the public,” he said.

Mr Pikoli emphasised that crime is everybody’s business. He said police alone can only do so much but they need help from the communities.

“The question of crime-fighting requires 100 percent from all of us, police, public, business, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations.

“We need all stakeholders and role-players to be committed to the cause. People must be part and parcel of the policing. Police stations must have a safety plan every year and people must be part of that. There must be a change in policing,” he said.

He did not dispute or deny that police are inefficient.

He questioned the allocation of resources to police stations and felt that needed to be corrected.

Mr Ngele made a call to residents to work with police.

He said his department is committed to crime-fighting, corruption in the police and working with the public.

He appealed to the public to report crimes committed by police.

“I understand that people are despondent.

“They feel that nothing is being done to keep them safe.

But the truth is they do not have to feel that way without trying all avenues,” he said.

Residents who attended the dialogue criticised police for not telling them about their rights. But in the end, the audience applauded the speakers for their advice.

Resident Maude Sibanda said the dialogue was an eye-opener for all who attended.

“We now know where to report bad police and inefficiency.We feel empowered by the two speakers. Police have not been good to us. They have been economical with the truth,” she said.