Three residents attended the Kirstenhof Community Police Forum (CPF) imbizo at the Commando Hall at the Westlake United Church on Monday June 13.
Police said a lack of community leadership was to blame for both the poor attendance and the CPF’s failure to set up street committees, but one resident, Matthew Adams, countered that police had not invited the community using the loudhailer.
CPF treasurer Sandra Graham expressed her disappointment at the poor attendance saying the officers had given up their private time to attend and give feedback.
“The CPF had to pay for this hall,” she said, adding that the pamphlets and posters advertising the meeting had been paid for by police. She said police had asked the community leaders to invite residents as well. Of the three residents that attended, only one said he had been invited by a community leader. None of the community leaders themselves attended.
“The CPF has tried to identify leaders in the community but they seem to change all the time,” Ms Graham said.
Working with the community leaders was key in setting up street committees, Ms Graham said. “It’s sad that there are no identifiable leaders in Westlake. That’s what is lacking in the community, proper leaders and street committees that we can call in to help and partner with us.”
Captain Edgar Jones said this was the third community meeting the CPF had organised and police had wanted to give feedback to the community on issues and questions they had raised before.
“This was supposed to be a feedback session, on what was discussed previously and then to get more information from the community and also to ask where our shortcomings are,” he said.
At an earlier meeting residents had asked for a satellite police station, Captain Jones said. “But the province did a feasibility study and they found that there was no need for a 24-hour, satellite police station because Westlake is a small community with only about 600 houses.”
He said crime stats had also affected this decision.
“The allocation of satellite police stations is based on crime stats, so if there are no stats, there will be no satellite police station. You mustn’t be shy to report a crime, and if you do, make sure to get a case number.”
Speaking about crime trends, Captain Jones said the biggest threat to the community was narcotics.
“Some people in the community do other crimes to get money for drugs,” he said.
The second biggest crime agitator in Westlake is alcohol. “There are no more illegal shebeens in Westlake because they all have licences but there is still drunkenness. We can’t police what happens behind closed doors.”
Captain Jones said 25 percent of the crimes in Westlake were related to drugs and another 25 percent to drunkenness.
“If we get rid of these, that’s 50 percent of the crime in Westlake gone,” he said.
Police invited anyone interested in working with the CPF to start street committees to contact Sergeant Deirdre Solomons at on 073 253 6361.