Cele’s R70m not hitting streets

Police Minister Bheki Cele has allocated R70 million to help community policing forums to fight crime. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Police Minister Bheki Cele has allocated R70 million to help community policing forums to fight crime. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 25, 2024


Durban — The R70 million allocated by Police Minister Bheki Cele to community policing forums (CPFs) nationwide is not making it to the streets where patrollers need it most.

Considered the eyes and ears of the SAPS, forums in eThekwini say the national allocation was not enough and they had seen few, if any, benefits.

KwaZulu-Natal was given R13.4m to ensure forums functioned properly.

Cele said at the presentation of the quarterly crime statistics it was “encouraging that 94% of the CPF budget” had been spent on resources such as vehicles.

This week his spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said the vehicles were “allocated to police stations or district offices and must be driven by police officers”.

“Members of CPF are driven for the purpose of participating in CPF activities which do not include patrols.”

She said the amount was “divided between provinces based on the number of police stations and crime weight per province”.

“After allocation of the funding, the national commissioner personally met with the national Community Police Consultative Forum to discuss how the funding must be used and to ensure that community policing leadership in each province actively participates in the process to determine priorities for the use of the funding.”

However, most of the city’s CPF representatives told the Independent on Saturday that they still lacked resources, including vehicles for patrolling.

Aidan David, chairperson of the eThekwini District Police Board and treasurer of the KZN CPF Board, confirmed that R13.4m had been allocated to the SAPS to support KZN CPFs.

“As provincial treasurer, I questioned why the money was kept by the SAPS and not forwarded to the CPF as a structure,” said David.

He said the provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, confirmed in a letter from the Treasury that the funds were given to the SAPS to help the CPFs to function.

“I don’t agree with this because we are volunteers and businessmen who know what the CPF requires.

“No consultation with CPF was done but these are the items procured and handed out to the 11 districts in KZN,” David said.

He listed items that had been allocated as 10 vehicles for the district chairpersons to be driven to meetings; jackets and caps with CPF provincial logos and safety boots for all district and 42 station executives. Each district received one tape recorder, one gazebo, one loud hailer and one speaker box.

“There were a lot of imbizos held all around the province to strengthen the CPF structures and these were funded from this money. No electronic equipment was bought,” said David.

Mark Nadasen, a public relations officer for the Phoenix CPF, said despite its vital role, the CPF was ill-equipped.

“I just heard that some vehicles were given to the CPFs at provincial level, but nothing has been sent to our station level as yet. The only thing that landed on us were uniform jackets and caps,” said Nadasen.

He said the CPF needed vehicles to patrol.

“Our sector managers would assist us as much as they can with the vehicle, but nothing branded CPF has been allocated to us.”

Nadasen said Phoenix was experiencing a surge in crime, including murders and drive-by shootings, and a police officer was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with suspects in the area last Saturday.

“As a reporting unit for SAPS, when we see something suspicious we report it to the SAPS and they will send us a vehicle. It sometimes takes 10 to 15 minutes to get assistance,” said Nadasen.

Bluff CPF chairperson Sidney Govindsamy said it was essential for CPFs to be better supported with resources.

“Funding is critical in the detection and prevention of crime with SAPS and community partnerships. The role of CPFs, neighbourhood watches, and street patrollers is quite a deterrent, but effective monitoring and patrolling attract costs.

“Volunteers can be better equipped if funds can be used to reimburse patrollers for their petrol expenses, bulletproof jackets, reflective jackets or purchasing of hand-held radios for communication between the CPF and patrollers.

“Although R70m was approved in May 2023, we have not received any of it to date. If it was filtered to CPFs, based on 1 200 stations across the country, each CPF would get about R58 000 a year, around R4 800 a month, which does not cover part of the petrol expenses incurred by the members.

“The CPF plays an integral part in the community and the minister should revisit the funding model.”

He said the perception among communities that CPFs were funded made it difficult to raise funds, so individual members and patrollers paid their own expenses.

KwaMashu CPF chairperson Lethuxolo Hlatshwayo said her area was dangerous and R70m was not enough to provide what the CPFs needed for work.

“Currently we use two-way radios, which are not enough, and we also use our own cellphones, which are also not adequate as we don’t get airtime,” she said.

“The KwaMashu Hostel is our problematic area because that is where criminals hide from police and where they keep stolen vehicles,” said Hlatshwayo.

“KwaMashu was also very bad last year when CPF members were killed,” said Hlatshwayo.

The CPF PRO in the eThekwini district, Dawood Chirwa, said it took commitment and dedication to fight crime, but CPF members in his area relied on police vehicles to travel to meetings.

He said through the work of the CPF, crime had been brought down in Mariannhill, where he is a chairperson.

CPF provincial secretary Sambulo Biyela said since the allocation was not enough, it would help if CPF volunteers would conduct foot patrols on their streets where they would not need vehicles.

Independent on Saturday