The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Taking Parliament to the People delegation visited the Oudtshoorn police station and its correctional facility to determine the effectiveness of the justice cluster in the region.
The delegation learnt about the strategic co-ordination of various stakeholders contributing to effective policing in the district. The driving force of this co-ordination is the Community Police Forum’s active role in crime prevention strategies in Oudtshoorn, the Station Commander of Oudtshoorn Police Station, Ms Levona Januarie, said.
“The Community Police Forum may not be active policemen and women, but their intervention in their respective communities is crucial. One of the major contributions is their involvement in the integration of offenders in their respective communities when [they are] released.”
The Forum also conducts workshops on the rights and recourses available to survivors of sexual offences and domestic violence.
The safer school programme is another pro-active intervention in the fight against crime, Ms Januarie said. “There is a decades-long legacy of crime in our communities. To address it, we target pupils at an early age to teach them about the long-term effects of drug-related crimes and other forms of criminal behaviour. If we make such interventions now, pupils are less likely to engage in such activities.”
She also said that a spike in stock theft is being dealt with proactively by the police through co-operation with farmers.
The delegates also visited the Oudtshoorn Correctional Centre where they heard a long list of problems, including vacant posts, and the lack of a promotions policy and an employment assistance programme.
“I cannot deny that these deficiencies have led to low staff morale in this facility. We are doing our level best under such circumstances to dispense the much needed correctional services to our inmates, but if these bottlenecks are removed, our working environment would be more conducive,” said the Area Commissioner, Ms Ndileka Booi.
“In some of our correctional facilities, 70% of our inmates speak Afrikaans. But when there is, for instance, a vacancy for a social worker, a stipulation will be evoked that such a position be filled by an African candidate as a means of redressing employment equity in the Western Cape. Although such a policy means well, the reality is that an African candidate with no proficiency in Afrikaans will not have a desirable effect in this regard,” Ms Booi explained.
Many Members of the delegation were unhappy to hear that there is no employment assistance programme at the facility to help staff cope with the challenging circumstances and life-threatening risks they confront every day. “As Members may be well aware, we are operating in a very stressful environment.
From time to time, we need to get referrals to deal with the high levels of stress. If we let these high levels of stress accumulate over time, without any psychiatric or psychological interventions, it is bound to affects us negatively,” Ms Booi said.
Members of the NCOP delegation promised that the things needing immediate attention will be dealt with as speedily as possible to ensure that the facility operates optimally.
Source : Parliament of South Africa