Western cape Community Policing Forums (CPFs) face many challenges – both internally and externally – within their mandates and domains. However, the Elsies River CPF (which is a CPF in one of the more dangerous communities within Cape Town) has been experiencing a significant increase in the challenges experienced, due to internal factionalism, infighting and political agendas and interference. Deputy chairperson of the Elsies River Community Police Forum, Imraahn Mukaddam says that a recent meeting was “sabotaged” by members of the CPF executive and that they [the saboteurs] “had their own agenda”.
“There is dissension within the ranks but fortunately 2019 is the year we have an Annual General Meeting (AGM). We will be able to sort this out through an election and getting a new mandate from the community,” said Mukaddam.
“But the point I want to raise is that the initial CPF constitution says that the mandate of the CPF should be two years. It was now, in 2011, extended to five years. What we are advocating for is the reintroduction of short terms for these kind of community organisations and platforms because we wouldn’t want people to become entrenched and have a system of gatekeeping. New and dynamic leadership is not being given the opportunity to serve the community.”
“We have a crisis in many CPFs because of the same issue.”
Mukaddam commented on CPF members using the platforms for their own political motives, contrary to the mandate of the forums.
“We also see in many communities that people are using CPF structures for political party motives…the CPF is [meant to be] an a-political organisation,” said Mukaddam.
There is a clear crisis of leadership both within the CPF and externally with the Elsies River cluster, according to Mukaddam.
“You have to have police leadership that enhances CPF leadership and is able to mediate the different dynamics.”
“Your ability to mobilise the community is hampered because of personality clashes and individuals overstepping boundaries and all the other issues. It becomes quite important that you have an early intervention when crisis happens. This is where our cluster failed us. The CPF reports to cluster and cluster reports to provincial office,” said Mukaddam.
He emphasised the need for an efficient CPF structure with support and good police leadership.
“The CPF is the link between the community and the police.”
Mukaddam also feels that parallel organisations do not help the community because they create further tension and confusion.
“Parallel organisations that work independently of the CPF structures create further tension within communities because you then have conflicting organisations working within the same domain,” said Mukaddam.
He then gave an update on the state of affairs with the CPF and their plans.
“We are waiting for the cluster commander’s intervention in terms of the impasse we have at Elsies River. We don’t want to mobilise the community because we don’t want to cause more conflict.”
“We want to call for an earlier election than November for our specific CPF. That may be one of the ways forward for Elsies River – to call for an earlier AGM.”