Members of the Manenberg Community Police Forum (CPF) along with community activists were ecstatic as they were sworn in as Commissioners of Oath by Cape Town Advocate Hishaam Mohamed on Monday. The idea of community workers providing the service of a Commissioner of Oaths to the community stemmed from a need to address socio-economic challenges within the area. The CPF chairperson Kader Jacobs believes these commissioners will assist local police in allowing them to focus on their core function of protecting the community, especially as gang turf war escalates and also address concerns such as unemployment.
A Commissioner for Oaths is a person who is authorised to verify affidavits, which are statements in writing and on oath, and other legal documents.
“We saw a need in the community. There are so many people unemployed that need documentation and certification when applying for a job. They only place they could get their documentation certified was at the police station. They end up travelling far distances, sitting for hours for a job that takes five minutes,” Jacobs explained.
Jacobs says the worsening situation with gang violence has left residents fearful of leaving their home. Thus, the commissioners will be offering their services closer to home and save pensioners the trouble of having to fork out more money on travelling costs to the police station among other things.
“Some people have to trek a distance of three to four kilometres just to have their documents certified and often get mugged or sometimes even get caught in gang cross fire. We will have Commissioners at the police station but others will be situated at the Library, People’s Community Centre or even in their respective streets to make it easily accessible,” Jacobs continued.
In addition to these operations, Adv Mohamed says empowerment workshops will also be rolled out as part of the developmental aspects in the community.
“Today, we have trained Commissioners of Oath from volunteers within the community, who have offered to work free of charge, to assist police in alleviating their capacity there. To allow them to do a more urgent task when called upon by the community,” Mohamed said.
“Just the other day we trained fifty women in another community on the cape flats, who have come forward in the community to do the work of the Commissioner of Oaths. We believe that every street in the Cape must have a Commissioner of Oath. People empowering themselves. Those who have a track record of community activism could qualify to serve their community.” VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)