Calls for CAT to continue

CPF chairperson Alphonso Jasson who pleaded with community members to make submissions over CAT

This was the general consensus reached at the highly charged CPF meeting held at Mountain Rise police station last night (Wednesday). While there were other items on the agenda, including concerns over drug and substance abuse among teens, it was CAT that took centre stage. Perhaps sensing the excitement that lay ahead, Reverend Lutchman, who opened the meeting with a prayer, pleaded for divine intervention for tempers to remain cool among those attending the meeting.

The disbanding of CAT- which was made up of security companies and the police- has been a source of anger over the past weeks as many residents and businesses in Pietermaritzburg believe it was instrumental in reducing crime in Pietermaritzburg, especially the northern areas.

According to the SAPS website, the project was the brainchild of Lieutenant General Mmamonnye L Ngobeni, who recommended a partnership that would comprise SAPS members and security companies to address crime within the community. The project was successfully launched on 1 March 2015 at the Pietermaritzburg Cluster Office.

CAT member and Mi7 Security Intelligence boss Nobin Karien said CAT was supposed to operate for a fixed term of one year that could be renewed if necessary. “The term ended in
December and we are now negotiating a renewed proposal and will consult with the two cluster generals.” He added that there would be a meeting with CAT stakeholders next week for an overview of CAT’s performance, including an analysis of statistics to evaluate the team’s progress.

CPF member Lucky Naicker has initiated an online and manual petition to get CAT reinstated.
Last night CPF chairperson Alphonso Jasson An pleaded with community members to make written submissions on their concerns about CAT so that these could be forwarded to top structure of the SAPS.
CPF member Venolian Govender cautioned community members against getting excited over
CAT disbandment, suggesting that if its lifespan was extended it should operate under new rules. “The station should run a project of CAT within its own structures and not that of private security bosses marketing their companies to gain bigger contracts. The community of Pietermaritzburg must seek the truth and facts before making decisions where private individuals benefit at the expense of the SAPS and the community at large,” said Govender in a letter that was read out at the meeting.

Colonel Paula Usher told the meeting that while the CAT initiative had recorded a number of successes, it had outlived its purpose, an opinion that was not shared by people attending the meeting.
“We cannot deny that CAT was effective as we cannot put a lifespan on crime because it’s ongoing,” said one member in an impassioned plea for the initiative to continue.
The absence of the local police leadership in Brigadier Francis Bantham, Boxer Pillay Brigadier Francis Banthamand former CPF chairperson Jay Jugwanth was cited as a source of concern, as community members believed that their attendace at the meeting was crucial. A CPF cluster meeting is set for February 9 where all submissions from community members will be collected to formulate a report which will be sent to the SAPS top brass.

Thembalethu Zakwe and Bongeka Sibisi

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