The Grassy Park Community Policing Forum (CPF) has asked for an official judicial commission of inquiry into policing in the area.
Service delivery complaints as well as charges of crimen injuria and internal grievances were logged by officers at the Grassy Park police station and are being investigated by Western Cape police (“Support for police head,” Southern Mail, Wednesday November 2).
In a media release, CPF spokesperson Philip Bam said the forum noted the allegations against station commander, Colonel Shawn van Wyk with great concern.
“These allegations appeared in media reports recently and relates in the main to matters of the management style of the station commander.
“Over time, staff members at the station also mentioned their unhappiness to members of the CPF causing concern about the morale at the station.”
He said the concern is that low morale might impact negatively on service delivery. He said the CPF executive could no longer ignore the allegations.
“After due consideration, the CPF executive decided to draw the attention of the police authorities to the problems as well as the provincial community safety ministry.
“Realising that because of the power relationships and the fear of victimisation, the CPF executive committee now calls for a judicial commission of inquiry into the state of policing at Grassy Park and the conduct of the station commander. Concerned staff and the public need assurances of protection to give evidence without fear of intimidation,” he said.
“We did not make this decision lightly as there are many good police people at Grassy Park and recognising the good work the station commander is doing we believe a judicial commission is the only way to clear up the issues and get the Grassy Park police station on an even keel.”
Colonel Van Wyk declined to comment on the call for a commission of inquiry. Last week he told Southern Mail the complaints were part of a smear campaign.
“I won’t comment on the cases but I can say that I have been putting pressure on members because I want us to provide a better service to the people we serve,” he said.
“Despite the smear campaign against me I will continue what I’ve been doing and wait for the investigation to run its course.”
Ewald Botha, spokesperson for Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, said the investigation is under way.
“It is important that all mediation processes are followed whenever
a community has serious grievances against individual members of
the SAPS or against a particular SAPS station to help ensure that a breakdown in the relationship between the community and the police are either prevented or rectified,” said Mr Botha.
“MEC Plato respects the processes under way and as part of his oversight mandate over policing in the province will, supplementary to the ombudsman’s investigation and progress, also raise the issue with the provincial police commissioner to ascertain the validity of the complaints raised against the SAPS as well as the restorative action the police are undertaking,” he said.
Deidré Foster, deputy director of communication for the office of the Western Cape police ombudsman, confirmed they are looking into the allegation.
“We are currently awaiting their supporting documentation in respect of the concerns raised. Our due process is to conduct a first level assessment, before a full investigation is done.”
The office received 15 complaints from Grassy Park, she said.