New Visible Police support operational head makes waves
Cape Town - A young constable who started out on the job in Chatsworth for the SAPS in 1987, and spent his former years in the old riot unit, driving around in nyalas and casspirs in the midst of South Africa’s unrest, is now sitting at Cape Town Central station as the new Visible Police operational head.
After 33 years on the job, accumulating a world of experience working in policing departments from the detective department to public order policing, operational services in KwaZulu-Natal to acting Visible Police commander at Berea police station in Durban, Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Stephen is still smiling – as long as you don’t call him by his first name.
“He loves to be called Kevin,” joked station commander Brigadier Hansia Hansraj, who has already been impressed by the colonel’s proactive policing in going after root causes of crime in Cape Town.
But Stephen attributes his success to every member and partner involved.
“It’s teamwork. We work together. Berea was the number one station for theft of motor vehicles but the former station commander, Colonel Nkosinathi Radebe, and myself were very close and because of our leadership skills we’d both discuss issues and go out and implement. That’s what made us good. That’s how we took ourselves out of the top 30 stations for theft of motor vehicles,” Stephen said.
He and his new station commander Hansraj seem to be settling in at Cape Town Central station well but have challenges. The station topped the list for having the highest number of reported thefts out of motor vehicles yet again.
Other crimes that the station ranked high on included property-related crimes, drug-related crimes and common robbery.
“Our main initiative is intelligence-driven operations between law enforcement, health and safety, CCID (Central City Improvement District), GPCID (Green Point City Improvement District) and security companies. We meet once a week to draw up a plan to recover stolen property. Everybody is involved. It’s teamwork and it’s been a success so far,” Stephen said.
When asked if he still feels adrenaline on the job after all these years, he tried to contain his excitement as he leaned forward and a smile came across his face.
“Every day I put on my uniform, it’s a different challenge for me and I’m always smiling when I come to work. It’s the excitement about being a policeman that I can make a difference to the public out there,” Stephen said.
But he is tight-lipped about extortion interventions around the city centre and has been careful not to divulge too much detail.
“We met with business forums of Long Street to give them advice and ways to lodge a complaint anonymously. We are meeting with liquor forums and business owners. People should come to us and not be intimidated by gangsters,” Stephen said.
Hansraj said that extortion was a sensitive crime to deal with and that people were reluctant to complain because they feared retaliation and what would happen to their business.
“The issue is who do they trust with sharing that information? Trust builds over time, that’s why we’ve started these initiatives to build relationships. We are also working closely with crime intelligence. As time progresses, we will have breakthroughs,” Hansraj said.
Hansraj said that there were no issues of corrupt activities that Cape Town central police were involved in and that they had no favourites when it came to club owners.
“I approach corruption with zero tolerance and it’s disgusting to even think that it happens. There’s still hope and there are good people out there. It’s about building trust with communities and allowing people to report crime, even against police officers,” Hansraj said.
Hansraj added that she and Stephen come from a time of firm discipline in the police force, with she herself having 29 years of experience in the force. “I’m glad we made the right decision to have Colonel Stephen here. We had a lot of candidates. He stood out with his experience and his expertise that has come across so far. He’s been good,” Hansraj said.