ON THE BEAT: JP Smith, Mayco Member for Safety and Security

The Philippi Community Police Forum (CPF) has criticised a new plan by the City of Cape Town to tackle crime and social issues in some of the most crime-ridden areas on the Cape Flats.
The forum has accused the City of side-lining them and “building their own army”.

This follows an announcement by the City that the training for the first batch of recruits for the Neighbourhood Safety Teams (NSTs) has started.

According to Mayco Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, this initiative is designed to tackle crime hotspots by ensuring a constant presence in areas plagued by gang violence and other social ills.

For the current financial year, a R20 million budget has been approved for recruitment, training and deployment of Law Enforcement staff in Hanover Park, Philippi and Delft.

Smith told the Daily Voice various factors, including the murder rate and level of gang violence, were taken into consideration when selecting the areas for the project.

He says by November this year, residents can expect to see more Law Enforcement officers on the streets with between 90 to 120 staff being sent to the two precincts when the training is completed.

However, Philippi CPF chairperson Ebrahim Abrahams says the matter was never brought for discussion to the organisation and accuses the City of “building its own army”.

“This is not about safety and, if it was, why was the CPF not consulted? The City is building its own army and when did they do the recruitment?” he says.

“They did not discuss this with us. The City should have discussed this with all role-players.”

Smith denies this, saying all ward councillors and CPFs were briefed as the project has been placed on the Annual Police Plan and the Integrated Development Plan over the past two years.

“They were consulted and can access further information from their councillors and sub-council chairpersons. I will gladly give them a brief if they invite me,” he says.

Meanwhile, Mitchells Plain CPF chairperson, Abie Isaac,s says residents would welcome this initiative.

“We would welcome any initiative aimed at improving safety. We can confirm that our CPF was consulted and at the time we questioned why not Mitchells Plain, but the City and SAPS have their own way of prioritising areas.”

The Delft CPF could not be reached for comment.

Smith told the Daily Voice the project will also see the introduction of six officers of the Metro Police’s Gang and Drugs Task Team.

In the past year, the specialised unit has made a name for themselves on the Cape Flats, frequently raiding drug outlets operated by gangsters.