Communities rally behind controversial station commander Shaun van Wyk.
Grassy Park, Ottery, Lotus River and Parkwood residents have pledged their support to Grassy Park station commander Shaun van Wyk after cases were brought against him.
Last month the Daily Voice reported on service delivery complaints, as well as charges of crimen injuria and internal grievances that were submitted by two officers from Grassy Park police station, leading to an inquest on the commander.
One police officer claimed that Van Wyk was “racist” after he allegedly called him a “dirty Indian”. Another cop claimed she left the SAPS because she was on the brink of “shooting and killinghim”.
The stories were met with mixed emotions, as some people agreed while others defended the station commander on social media.
Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk confirmed the grievances and said it is under investigation but he did not elaborate on the matter.
Van Wyk, who has been head of the station since December 2014, said the complaints are part of a smear campaign against him.
“I won’t comment on the cases but I can say that I have been putting pressure on members because I want us to provide a better service to the people we serve,” he said.
“Despite the smear campaign against me I will continue what I’ve been doing and wait for the investigation to run its course,” said Van Wyk.
A worker at the police station, who does not want to be named, said the grievances against the commander are uncalled for.
“The colonel is a strong leader and he is very disciplined which means he expects a lot from his workers.
“I am not saying he is perfect. He is hard on us sometimes but it is for the good of the station and those we provide a service to. There are some lazy officers at the station who do not do what they are supposed to do and the colonel calls them out on it. Many don’t like that.”
The source adds that compared to previous station commanders, Van Wyk has been making a positive contribution to the communities the station serves.
Former Ward 66 councillor Melanie Arendse said the communities from Parkwood and Ottery are rallying together to show their support for the leader.
“In the nearly two years that he has been in charge of that station, we have seen tremendous changes because he goes the extra mile. Before, officers were met with hostility when they entered the Ottery area because they didn’t trust the police. The colonel has built relationships with not only organisations and leaders but also residents who are now more willing to work hand in hand with police. There have even been more operations in the area as well,” said Ms Arendse.
Ms Arendse recalls sitting in on meetings where the colonel would address issues such as the station’s response times to call-outs and uniform issues.
“He would call people out, he even reprimanded me a few times when I was out of order. I think he is doing the same at the station and therefore he is not liked by those who wants to run rampant,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with a station commander pulling his station right,” she said.
Ms Arendse added that she along with several residents, she fully supports the colonel.
Community leader Paul Phillips said the internal grievances is a concern.
“We have requested a meeting to discuss what is going on at Grassy Park police Station because we are worried that the in-fighting will affect the station’s service delivery to the areas. We want clarity on the situation and we want to hear both sides of the story,” said Mr Phillips.
“I can, however, say that the colonel has fulfilled his obligations towards the community.
“My other concern is the fact that there has been a history of station commanders being swapped out at Grassy Park police station. This needs to be addressed and the problem needs to be investigated. We know there are officers who have been doing illegal activities and there have been residents who said some officers are mobalising people on the ground to root the station commander out because they want to continue with their illegal activities,”said Mr Philips.
He said the Voice of Parkwood are in the process applying for a request into a judicial enquiry.
“We need to get to the bottom of what’s going on at Grassy Park police station in order for our people to get the service they deserve from SAPS,” said Mr Phillips.
CPF spokesperson Philip Bam said the forum is unable to comment on the matter pending investigation.
Van Wyk urged residents to continue working with police to fight crime in the areas.