Cape Town - The Western Cape Community Policing Forum (CPF) Board is up in arms over the decision by police management to convert CPF cluster boards to district boards.
Provincial CPF board chairperson Fransina Lukas said that in order for CPFs to be aligned to districts, the CPF uniform constitution must first be amended and adopted with amendments.
This after the board received a letter from the acting provincial police commissioner, Thembisile Patekile, noting with concern that some of the provincial board and cluster members were still engaging with, and communicating about, community policing matters, despite the fact that they had been released to participate on the general elections levels for the next five-year period.
Therefore, according to Patekile, any engagement or communication of whatever nature, by any member of the board, was prohibited, as it was or would be contrary to the constitution for community forums and boards in the Western Cape, 2010, read with the provincial commissioner's instruction.
Patekile said the province was in the process of phasing in new districts, and therefore no engagement should be made with any platform on behalf of both the cluster and boards in the province.
Lukas said Patekile's letter was not factual and that he had not been correctly advised regarding the status of CPF, cluster and provincial boards.
"We can safely state that the alignment process has not been concluded and signed off by the national police commissioner, therefore SAPS clusters and commanders remain intact and functional," said Lukas.
She said the intended move was premature and unconstitutional, because the CPF uniform constitution still referred to cluster boards and not district boards.
"The board will communicate with its constituency and the media if and when needed, and will not be silenced or censored," said Lukas.
She said it was a concern that the management had attempt to render CPFs dysfunctional and inactive in a province plagued by violent crime in poor communities.
Lukas appealed to the provincial police management not to treat the CPF structures as a pet project, but rather as an equal partner in community policing.
She said the board would now petition Police Minister Bheki Cele, the national police commissioner and the national CPF consultative forum to intervene.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said that with reference to section 24.8.1 of the CPF constitution, provision was made for the dissolution of CPF boards should the police undertake restructuring, which is what was now happening with the police moving from clusters to districts.
Fritz said the term of all the boards came to an end about a year ago, and they were also dissolved by the provincial commissioner in order to allow for free and fair CPF elections, and to allow cluster board chairpersons to also stand for CPF elections.