On the 6th of March Africa Unite’s team of youth peer educators brought together Nyanga Community & local Police in a dialogue at Zolani Centre in Nyanga.
This dialogue was part of a continuation of the conflict mediation project which Africa Unite youth peer educators started last year 2013. The aim of the project is to strengthen grassroots capacities of the community in conflicts,to build tolerant and inclusive communities in the Western Cape together with developing a conflict mediation model that can be replicated in other parts of the country.
The dialogue came after an outcry by local community who wanted to engage with their police since Nyanga has been dubbed as the murder Capital of South Africa.
The following people were part of the panel:Mr Makhasi chairperson of the Community Police Forum (CPF Nyanga), Captain Malindi from South Africa Police Service (SAPS) and Mrs Kepe of the Department of Community Safety. Vukani local community newspaper was also present.
During the discussion many concerns were raised by the community members on top of the issues that had been earlier on mentioned in the previous dialogues in relation to crime in the area. Some of the issues mentioned on the day were:
“It is difficult to accuse a police officer as often these cases disappear”
“The police in Nyanga are invisible in the community, they are rarely seen patrolling”
“Apartheid at the Nyanga police station is still prevalent”
“Foreign nationals are not treated accordingly when they report their cases”
“Police seem to be working along with the criminals rather than the community”
Mr Makhasi of the CPF explained the role of CPF and how the community can play a role in their mandate. However he mentioned that often the community does not take part in the important meetings information sessions organised by CPF such as AGMs. Their meetings are always open to the community.
He also highlighted the lack of resources facing SAPS. Captain Malindi of the SAPS supported the view expressed by CPF and challenged any member of the community who has relevant information regarding wrong doing by the police to bring it to the attention of Brigadier Mangce (in Charge of Nyanga Police Station).
Mrs Kepe of the Department of Safety also highlighted on their duty to ensure the police fulfil their mandate in terms of service delivery, and how they capacitate the police, public security companies and neighbourhood watches through different initiatives.
After a fruitful discussion between the community members and the above panellist the following recommendations were made:
· The Parole Board and the Department of Justice need to be invited to the next Dialogue as most of the crime is committed by young people on parole
· Another police station needs to be built in the area as one station is not enough to cover great Nyanga. It was also agreed that all the stakeholders such as NGO’s, councillors and community leaders need to get together in lobbying for land to the City of Cape Town, otherwise Nyanga will remain the crime capital of South Africa for years to come
· There were some NO Go Zones identified in the area such as Mapindi in Old Crossroads popularly known as Red Carpet for the blood shed every day which needs urgently a mobile Police station for public safety. However the Community Police Forum was mandated to do a follow up with the City of Cape Town in their forthcoming meetings
· To curb the issues of the community not being informed about the follow up of their cases, CPF informed that there would be a public meeting to discuss the files according to the type of the crime. This is mainly because the detectives are overwhelmed by cases e.g. one detective deals with more than 200 cases which makes it impossible for him to inform all the complainants.
· It was proposed that the crime is not only the police issue but also the community issue and the community should not constantly blame the police. It was suggested that the community needs to be involved because some of the criminals are staying among or with them. Therefore individuals should work with the police and report criminal activities not to hide them.
· It was also suggested that more human rights awareness should be done in the community including community awareness on illegal fire arms.
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