Kirstenhof CPF under pressure

Incoming Kirstenhof CPF chairman Geoff Bettison, acting station commander Captain Edward Jones and outgoing CPF chairman Errol Wood.

Staff shortages, load shedding and a lack of funds are just some of the pressures the Kirstenhof Community Police Forum (CPF) faces, but it has vowed to press on with the job of keeping the community safe.

This emerged at the CPF’s annual general meeting, held at the Kirstenhof police station last week. In attendance were representatives from NGOs, security companies and police officials.

Outgoing chairman Errol Wood thanked incoming chairman Geoff Bettison for having taken on the expanded partnership programme (EPP) oversight visits to the station in the past.

The programme had allowed the CPF to implement an approved oversight procedure in return for funding for projects at Kirstenhof police station, such as repairs, gardening, equipment, sundry expenses, etc, said Mr Wood.

From April 2019 to October 2021, the CPF had spent R47 734 on the police station and the money had come from the Department of Community Safety (DOCS) EPP funds, he said

CPFs that voluntarily participated in the EPP received R3 200 a month from DOCS but that funding stopped at the end of March last year.

Now, CPFs seeking funding from the department can only apply for a once-off annual payment of R5000, according to Wade Seale, spokesman for Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz

The EPP had allowed CPFs to visit police stations and record standards of efficiency at least seven times a month and it had ensured that they had regular meetings and were properly constituted. It had held the CPFs to account as well as SAPS and ensured cooperation, said Mr Seale.

However the EPP funding is now being reallocated to support the Area Based Teams (ABT) that DOCS sees as a key part of the Provincial Safety Plan to halve the murder rate in the province over the next decade.

Mr Seale said the teams brought together law enforcement, various government departments, faith-based groups and NGOs to focus resources on areas in the province with the highest murder rates.

While CPFs were an important ABT partner, DOCS was not legally required to fund them as they fell under the jurisdiction of SAPS and the Department of Public Works, he said.

However, Mr Wood said the discontinuation of the EPP was a major blow.

Kirstenhof was not a high-priority crime station but it still needed funding, he said. The detectives were based at a separate site despite there being space at the station; the perimeter security of the station was poor; the charge office did not have facilities to cater for the elderly or disabled or for private statement taking; the station had no holding cells or backup facilities for power outages; and the phones did not work when there was load shedding.

Mr Wood said permanent staff appointments needed to be made at the station.

Acting station commander Captain Edward Jones said they had 11 vacant positions with only one being filled over the past year. They presently have 72 personnel and should have 84. He said the station had 15 allocated vehicles but five were in for repairs.

Warrant Officer Reece Harvey said crime was generally down from 2019 with four murders compared to nine; one attempted murder down from six; and 150 business burglaries compared to 227. Non-residential robbery was up with nine cases compared to one.

The Kirstenhof Community Police Forum held its AGM last week.