Parliament’s portfolio committee on police chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Picture: GCIS
Parliament’s portfolio committee on police chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Picture: GCIS

Parliament summons CPF, SAPS, Community Safety to thrash out their differences

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Sep 2, 2021

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Cape Town - The mounting tensions between the Community Policing Forum (CPF) board, police management and the Community Safety department resulted in their being summoned by Parliament’s portfolio committee on police to clarify their roles and responsibilities across the police value chain and to strengthen policing in the province.

CPF board chairperson Fransina Lukas said the meeting was requested by the CPF, and the portfolio committee granted them an opportunity to present their case.

Lukas said all 16 clusters were part of the meeting held by the committee this week, and the issues raised included funding, training and support to CPF structures in the province, and political interference by certain ward councillors with neighbourhood watch (NHW) and CPF structures.

Committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the committee was concerned by the lack of uniformity in the policing system.

Joemat-Pettersson said that could be clarified by amending the Police Act to bring it in line with the Constitution. Also, the committee believed that an integrated approach towards crime-fighting was necessary, as a national blueprint to implement the approach.

“It is on this basis that we have urged the SAPS management to expedite the amendment of the act to ensure that no gaps are visible in the fight against crime. From this amendment, a clear framework managing the relationship between SAPS and community policing forums must be set out,” said Joemat-Pettersson.

She said the committee was concerned that the relationship between the police and CPFs remained challenging and was negatively impacting collaborative crime-fighting.

“The committee has thus called for urgent interactions aimed at resolving the relationship and codifying it to ensure sustainability,” she said.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz reported that 147 out of 151 CPFs have conducted their annual general meetings, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19.

“As the Department of Community Safety, we will play our part to assist in clearing up any confusion around the funding of CPFs,” said Fritz.

National police commissioner Khehla Sithole said they do have a formally approved CPF strategy, which was announced in the state of the nation address by the president.

However, Sithole said they were going through a national review of the CPF set-up, as well as the alignment to the new structures that have been adopted through the restructuring process.

“We can only win the war against crime if we work collaboratively with a clear goal of ensuring peaceful and safe communities,” said Joemat-Pettersson.

She said the committee called for the election process to be finalised to ensure that all 151 police stations in the Western Cape have links to the communities they serve.

Joemat-Pettersson said the committee highlighted concerns about the inadequate training of CPFs, which affected their ability to discharge their responsibilities, and called on the police to standardise training and ensure that CFPs were adequately capacitated to play their critical role in the fight against crime.

She said the standardisation of the relationship between the police and CPFs would also assist in planning and resourcing that critical pillar of the fight against crime.

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