I attended a “State of the Suburb” community meeting in Bedfordview, Johannesburg last night, which was organised by the local Community Policing Forum (CPF).
The turnout was fantastic.
Gauteng Police Commissioner, Lt. General Mzwandile Petros and Community Safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko was there too, including representatives from the SHOUT Foundation.
The Bedfordview CPF is credited with being one of the foremost structures in South Africa. What is their secret?
General Petros also indicated it is the first CPF to invite him to engage on a community level.
Together with her team, Marina Constas, chairwoman of the Bedfordview CPF, works tirelessly with the community and local police to achieve a collective goal of preventing and curbing crime.
This community is a fantastic example of why CPFs exist in the first place and what they should do to fulfill their mandate.
There are too many examples of dysfunctional CPFs that are driven by their own personal or political agendas.
These CPFs have no relationship with the local police, nor do they listen or carry out the mandate by residents in their communities.
If this is true of your community, expose them to the provincial CPF board or if you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Line or Crime Stop.
The rot and corruption is not going to end if we don’t take the initiative to expose it. It is both your right and responsibility.
Bedfordview should serve as an example that we have to work together and look out for each other in our communities.
We can no longer afford to isolate ourselves behind our high walls and electrified fences.
Get to know your neighbours and take collective responsibility to achieve the type of community you want and you want your kids to grow up in.
Last night we heard from the CPF about the conditions that local police have to work in. Morale is low.
The majority of police officers were described as dedicated and Constas called on the community to support and encourage them.
In turn General Petros also gave an indication that he is committed to looking at ways in which an abandoned project to upgrade the local police station can be revived.
Yes, confidence in the police is at an all time low.
We should continue to apply pressure on police leadership to invest in the image of the police through training, regular feedback, engagement with communities, upgrading of infrastructure, a common code of conduct, communication etc.
But simply giving up on them is not serving any purpose.
They are our police. They are here to protect and serve us.
To brand all police officers as thugs or incompetent is counterproductive.
We should be encouraging and rewarding those who do their badges proud, motivating others to follow their example. We have to keep a balance and celebrate the pockets of excellence.
We will be launching Lead SA’s Drug Watch initiative in Gauteng soon.
We are again calling on communities to point out the drug dealers and kingpins in our communities.
You can do this anonymously.
If you haven’t yet realised your role in this, the time is now.
You can either wait for things to change, which is highly unlikely. Or you can stand up and make difference in your own way.
It starts with you.