Community leaders from Ottery, Pelican Park, Lotus River and Parkwood have rallied behind Grassy Park police station commander Colonel Shawn van Wyk – in sharp contrast to another group of leaders, led by a police oversight body, that wants him sacked.
On Saturday March 11, the Grassy Park Community Police Forum (CPF) and several residents marched to the station to complain about poor service from Grassy Park police.
The CPF handed over a memorandum to Community Safety MEC Dan Plato demanding the station be investigated for “miserably failing in its charter to serve and protect” the communities it serves.
In the memorandum, the CPF blamed low staff morale caused by Colonel Van Wyk’s “dictatorial type of management” for the shoddy service.
But, at an emergency meeting, held on Thursday March 9 after a disruption at the march, Voice of Parkwood chairman Paul Phillips claimed the community did not hold with the CPF’s accusations against the station commander.
“In principle, we agree on concerns raised by the CPF and the need for a judicial commission of inquiry into operations at the Grassy Park police station,” said Mr Phillips.
He agreed that the issue of safety and security was “a huge concern” because of the impact it had on community upliftment, but he said the CPF’s claims about Colonel Van Wyk and the good relations it and the community had supposedly had with previous commanders were untrue and unfair.
“Colonel Van Wyk cannot be made a scapegoat to the issues of service delivery and other gripes at the station. He has only been in office for only three years, whereas the station has a history of being dysfunctional years before he came to the station,” said Mr Phillips.
“The statements by the CPF do not speak on behalf of the community. They don’t speak for us. We have issue with the service delivery of the station, not the station commander. He is doing his utmost best to correct the wrong of the past, before his time. There are elements and staff at the station who are set in the pattern of poor service de-
livery, and when challenged, react in the
smear campaign against the commander,” said Mr Phillips.
Former Ward 66 councillor Melanie Arendse, who was at the meeting, said the community’s relationship with Colonel Van Wyk was healthy and discipline at the station had improved under his watch.
“Colonel Van Wyk has a bit of an attitude
but that can’t be held against him,” she said.
“He ‘skels’ but he works to better his station. There is a smear campaign against him and
that is not fair because the relationship he has built up with the communities the station serves has been better than previous station commanders.”
Former CPF cluster chief Hanif Loonat was also at the meeting, and he too backed the Voice of Parkwood’s support for Colonel Van Wyk.
“Corruption at Grassy Park has been clamped down by Colonel van Wyk. The man is doing his job; he is trying to correct the wrongs at the station, and those at the station are not taking a liking to his efforts. He has flaws, he can be very abrupt and he isn’t perfect with regards to his attitude sometimes, but he is doing his job,” said Mr Loonat.
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