Ombudsman moves house

The staff of the Western Cape Police Ombusman at the launch of their new offices.

The Western Cape Police Ombudsman launched its new office space at the Waldorf Building in St George’s Mall, on Thursday December 8 and, at the same time, reported back on its progress over the past 18 months of its existence.

Ombudsman spokeswoman, Deidre Foster said the office had overcome challenges with staff constraints and office space, and remained committed to dealing with clients “without fear or favour”.

At the event, ombudsman Vusi Pikoli, spoke about his role, which is to monitor and oversee police conduct and efficiency of the police service; promote good relationships between the police and the community; receive and investigate any complaint of police inefficiency or a breakdown in relationship between the police and any community.

Since its inception the Ombudsman has received more than 700 complaints, each with its own challenges, said Ms Foster.

Guests at the event included Cape Town Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith; the head of department for community safety, Mireille Wenger; acting City ombudsman Helene Coutinho, as well as representatives from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, and the South African Human Rights Commission and the police.

Another challenge the office faced included building a relationship with the police. Ms Foster said this had been very difficult in the beginning.

“Consistent interaction with SAPS has lead to an enhanced understanding of the role and function of the office, and the relationship has improved over time,” she said.

However, the office had also celebrated some achievements, such as the swearing in of staff by Judge President John Hlophe; establishing a task team with the police and the National Prosecuting Authority; dealing with a number of domestic violence cases; investigations in other provinces and extensive outreach initiatives.