CAPE TOWN – Residents in Phoenix, Milnerton, say they are facing serious policing issues.
They attest that there is drug dealing and criminal activity happening on their doorsteps, but when the police are notified, they ask residents to provide “proof”.
GroundUp has recently reported on residents’ concerns over lack of services in their neighbourhood.
During the most recent sub-council meeting in May, a representative from Phoenix Neighbourhood Watch listed a number of crime prevention measures that had been requested for Ward 4 and not yet rolled out.
These included CCTV cameras on Freedom Way and additional law enforcement officers in Ward 4 “as [the police] have insufficient resources”.
GroundUp has been told by several sources that the South African Police Service (SAPS) does not have enough resources to police the whole of Milnerton and therefore needs to focus on high crime areas.
Councillor Helen Carstens, chairperson at the meeting, also agreed that there was a need for more joint operations between law enforcement, metro police, traffic and SAPS.
Community policing forums are finding it increasingly difficult to work with the police. In April this year, Brigadier Marius Stander told the Milnerton Community Policing Forum (CPF), which represents Phoenix too, that it would not be allowed to attend the Milnerton Integrated Security Forum.
They were told that only “PSIRA [Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority] registered security companies” would be allowed to attend, as SAPS has a “regulatory mandate” over these companies.
Captain FC Van Wyk from SAPS Western Cape confirmed this. He said that the meetings “are of an operational nature” and that it was decided to limit participation.
‘Proof’ of criminal activity
On the Facebook page for Milnerton CPF, residents expressed anger and concern over the change, questioning why CPFs in other areas are able to attend their security forums.
As the chairperson of the Phoenix Ratepayers Association, Ursula Marshall is vocal about her unhappiness with the police.
She complains that when she informs them where well-known drug dealers stay or where there is illegal activity taking place, they insist that she provide “proof”.
Marshall said that she has been warned by concerned residents that she is going to get hurt if she doesn’t shut up. “But everybody has shut up for 20 years and this is the result,” she said.
Responding to this, Van Wyk said that they are unable to comment “without being provided with specific details of the reported incidents”.
“It can however be stated that Milnerton SAPS welcomes any information received from the community and will take action based on the strength thereof. At the same time, however, such actions must be conducted within the confines of the law and in keeping with existing legislation,” he said.
One night in January 2016, Marshall’s son was stopped while driving her car and the wiring under the dashboard was allegedly ripped from the vehicle as the police searched for drugs.
Another member of the ratepayers’ association, Belinda Mackay, has also been outspoken about her unhappiness with the police in Phoenix. One night in September last year, her house was raided.
Nothing was found. Mackay was told that the police were from “Crime Intelligence”.
“I don’t know who to trust anymore,” said Mackay.
When asked about these incidents, Van Wyk said that they were not able to comment “without being provided with specific information”.
“The aggrieved parties are however welcome to approach the management of the station with specific information, upon which an investigation of the claims will be launched.”
According to Crime Stats SA, there were 40 murders in the Milnerton precinct in 2016 and 813 recorded drug-related crimes.
PHOTO: Residents of Phoenix, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Milnerton police, are dissatisfied with the quality of policing in their area. (Ashleigh Furlong, GroundUp)