Mossel Bay Municipality has – once again – taken the lead by launching and establishing the first, multi-disciplinary, Safety Forum at a local government level in the Southern Cape.
The Safety Forum covers the larger municipal area and will follow a multi-disciplinary approach in the continued focus on the prevention and combating of crime.
The Safety Forum enjoys wide support from the SA Police in the district, the various neighbourhood watch groups as well as the municipality, which did the preparatory work for it under the leadership of the head of the municipality’s new directorate for community safety, Colin Puren, and Councillor Leon van Dyk, who initiated the process.
“Today, we are writing the foreword to a success story against crime. Crime is hampering economic development and is detrimental to the well-being of all our residents,” Acting Executive Mayor Alderman Dirk Kotzé said in his opening remarks at the inaugural meeting on Friday, March 26.
“Although a local authority does not have a direct, specific mandate for crime prevention, precisely because it is the responsibility of the SA Police and the security community, closer local co-operation and support are imperative to achieve success. A focused, collaborative approach that fights crime, promotes security, stimulates economic stability is necessary. This will promote job creation and economic growth, and reduce the social ills that erode the morale of our community.” Alderman Kotzé emphasized that the fight against crime can only be successful when security is prioritized when relationships are enhanced and strengthened, and collaborative partnerships are established and nurtured.
The SAPS Eden Cluster commander, Major General Oswald Reddy, said his vision is that the district will be the safest area in the country. “We are taking the lead in the Western Cape, where not all municipalities have the same focus on the need for community safety as Mossel Bay. Mossel Bay is the first municipality in the district to establish a safety forum.”
He said the aim of the Mossel Bay Safety Forum should be to create a safe environment that contributes to the upliftment of all residents; to consult and communicate strategically with all communities; and promote safety according to a predetermined plan.
“Consultation and collaboration in a structure where each participant’s role and function are well-defined and understood, where integrated plans are well-coordinated, will contribute to a safer environment, especially if a listening approach is followed. ”
The Mossel Bay Safety Forum will function with the support of the Western Cape Department of Community Safety (DOCS), financially supported by, among others, the Garden Route District Municipality, and function with the administrative and project support of the Mossel Bay Municipality.
A steering committee has been established which will, among other things, develop a local safety plan for the community. Neighbourhood watch and farm watch groups, and community groupings will play a crucial role. The steering committee will function under the chairmanship of Councillor Leon van Dyk. Mossel Bay Municipality will be represented by Colin Puren, while the Community Policing Forums will be represented by Phillip Matthews; the neighbourhood watch groups by Arthur Riordan; farm watch groups will be represented by Pieter de Villiers. The co-opted members of the Da Gamaskop police cluster, youth sector, religion sector, and education sector will be confirmed later. It is envisaged that the steering committee will meet monthly, and the community forum will meet quarterly.
Councillor van Dyk gave an overview of the proposed joint operations center where provision is made for dealing with both disasters and community safety challenges on an integrated, technologically advanced, and collaborative approach, with close cooperation with the respective police stations. He pointed to the many advanced, integrated cameras installed in and around Mossel Bay by private initiatives and highlighted their successes for the district.
“Mossel Bay Municipality did not fund the cameras. The cameras belonging to the municipality monitors the security of the municipal infrastructure.”
The Security Forum does not replace or compete with the Community Policing Forums but will work closely with all facets of the Security Community. Promoting effective mutual communication between all participants in the security community will be crucial, including taking proactive action against crime.
Mossel Bay’s existing community safety plan will be reviewed and, where necessary, adjusted.