Victim empowerment programme to be updated in new year

The Cape Town community police forum (CPF) will work on getting the station’s victim empowerment programme (VEP) room fully functional by the end of the first quarter next year.

This was announced at the CPF’s annual general meeting, which took place on Thursday December 6 at the station in Buitenkant Street, where the CPF reflected on the year that was, and painted a way forward for their tasks ahead.

The VEP room, run by the CPF, aims to support victims of crime and violence as well as their families, to deal with the impact of the incident.

The victims talk to trained volunteers who guide them through the process and, if needed, refer them to a counsellor or psychologist for professional help.

CPF chairperson, Marc Truss, said they are looking to relaunch the VEP programme and recruit more volunteers from the neighbourhood watches in the area to assist with victim support.

Cape Town Central police spokesperson, Captain Ezra October said while the VEP room is functional, the police identified another space in the station, on the first floor, to move the facility to as the current area leaks when it rains.

He said the VEP currently has eight trained volunteers who support victims of crime. “We need more volunteers. Training will be provided to those who want to help.”

In his report, Mr Truss said the CPF has built strong relationships with security role players over the past year.

“As volunteers, we need to be committed and ready to face the things we live through everyday. We have held successful meetings, and in order to make a difference we will sometimes agree to disagree.”

He said the Cape Town Central police is still number one on the national list for theft out of motor vehicle. “There are various reasons for this, but it is mainly opportunistic. Members of the public leave their valuables in their cars and it gets broken into.”

He said for the coming year, the community should remain focused and not deviate from the goal, which is to make the city safer.

One of the initiatives run by the CPF is the Police Officer of the Month award, to give recognition to members who go above the call of duty.

Police officers are nominated by the community, vetted and then given an award of excellence and a voucher from the CPF. The award can also go to those who don’t wear uniform, and the CPF has a quarterly award for any community member who has gone the extra mile for their community.

Mr Truss said during the year, this has been neglected, so going forward, the CPF wants to make sure that every month, someone is nominated and recognised for the extra work they do.

Station commander Brigadier Hansia Hansraj said comparing crime from this year to last year, there has been significant reductions in the priority crimes.

In a report, which could not reveal numbers because of the moratorium on statistics, police said that there was an increase in rape, carjacking and sexual assault, while there was a decrease in attempted murder, robberies burglaries and theft out of motor vehicles, as well as drug-related crime.

“There was hard work done in order for us to have these reductions. We were awarded the number 1 spot for reductions in crime by Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula, and these reductions were due to partnerships and the community.”

Brigadier Hansraj said while Cape Town Central police still remains the top station nationally for theft out of motor vehicle, and number 2 for robberies, the reductions show something has been done.

“As much as the crime shows reductions, it is still a priority to us, and we want to get it down to a point where we don’t feature on that list.”

The ward councillor for the city centre, Dave Bryant, said the police should warn the public that fake reporting is something serious, as it puts a strain on resources that are already thinly spread.

Brigadier Hansraj said a perjury notice has been put up in the charge office on her instruction to warn people that they will be arrested if they open false cases.

She said police are working on engaging more with tourists.

“There is a busy festive season ahead of us. We are going to enhance the capacity and try to make it safe for all our visitors. We are expecting large volumes of people.”