By Shireen Fisher
The current collapse in relations between the Woodstock Community Policing Forum (CPF) and Woodstock police station management is likely to affect crime-fighting operations in the area over the busy festive season. Reports indicate that the breakdown has taken a dramatic turn, with the CPF lodging an official dispute with the SAPS.
Woodstock CPF chairman, Moosa Sydow, claims that attempts to resolve the matter have so far been unsuccessful, with the issues of the allocation of policing and resources being the biggest problem.
“This is something that has been coming a long way. The CPF is recognising their role in the partnership to fight crime. We try our best to work with the police, but it should be a two-way street,” Sydow said.
The CPF chairman claims that there is a lack of communication and understanding between the two parties.
“The problem is that they are not responsive. I approach this from two levels. The SAPS has to acknowledge that the CPF has an important, strategic role within the precinct to fight crime, but then there are the general complaints from the community. These are things that have to be addressed. Whether it’s calling out on a crime scene or just going in to the charge office,” he said.
Sydow said that it was all about the response that people get from police. The issues have allegedly been raised with SAPS management over the last few months to no avail.
“We have built, over the last year or two, a very solid basis of community engagement between the community and SAPS. We have regularly dealt with SAPS to ensure that they respond positively… but that hasn’t helped, so I think the appeal is also for the community to stand together, appreciate what is being done, appreciate that this is a serious indictment against SAPS and their service delivery within the Woodstock precinct.”
According to Sydow, the only good the CPF could report on was the structures established over the last two years, with three neighbourhood watches in place.
“What I want to reassure the community, as a responsible CPF, is that the decision we made was to declare a dispute with the type of roles the SAPS is playing. That is the responsiveness and poor management at the station. All of those things are at management level, but what we need to let the community know is that our community safety structures are functioning,” he said.
He said that the CPF is available to the community to lend the necessary support required and that he is hopeful that, from a crime and operational level, that the SAPS will acknowledge their dispute.
“When it comes to really taking care of the community, our people are still on board. We are still happy to communicate with and get involved with the police, but even that at this stage hasn’t improved. Instead of addressing the issues, they have started questioning our role, our community structures like the Salt River Neighbourhood watch,” Sydow said.
He added: “I don’t doubt the commitment of our structures. I’ve set up a forum amongst our leadership. We represent the community.”
Police spokesman, Captain Frederick van Wyk, recommended that Sydow to take the CPF’s complaints to the provincial management for further investigation. VOC