Youth commissioners announced

Youth commissioners Sonthuri Naidu from Grassdale High, Keeno Mesias and Shiloh Maart from Grassy Park High and Raeesah Davids and Ruth Oliphant from Zeekoevlei High School.

The Grassy Park Community Police Forum (CPF) along with the Grassy Park police announced the junior core commissioners last week and the group quickly got to work to make their communities safer for all residents.

The junior commissioner concept was introduced at police stations in 2019 with an aim to involve young people in the fight against crime and give them an opportunity to be empowered and to inculcate leadership, mentorship as well as moral and ethical values.

The project is also aimed at building resistance and resilience among young people to equip them to fight crime and violence affecting their communities.

The five Grade 8 and 9 pupils from Zeekoevlei High, Grassy Park High and Grassdale High schools were elected after two rounds of presentations they made to a selected panel about how they perceived crime as the youth and what steps stakeholders can take to include their voice. They were scored and the highest scorer was selected as the junior station commander, which was Ruth Oliphant from Zeekoevlei High School.

The other four pupils were hand selected and have a portfolio that will be their core focus including youth visible police commander, a youth detective commander and a youth support commander. The station selected two youth visible police commanders who are deputies in the portfolio and share the responsibilities.

The youth core commissioners with CPF executives and Grassy Park police staff.

Grassy Park police station commander Colonel Dawood Laing said he sees a bright future for the youth commissioners. “I think we have selected a group of youngsters who are dedicated and who really showed that they are interested in the cause and making their communities better so they will be ambassadors for the youth. We are looking forward to working with them, showing them the ropes and having them be the next generation of crime fighters.”

CPF chairperson Melvyn Jonkers said the forum is excited about the project.

“We fully embrace this process because it’s a step in the right direction to create awareness amongst our young people at school level so that they can become role models at their schools and also take up the baton and promote safer lifestyles and communities.

“There is a saying that children are the leaders of tomorrow but it has changed because they are the leaders of today and today they can become the leaders so we need to equip them to take up leadership roles and take over the reins and hopefully bring about more positive change. They will be able to advise and give us a different perspective on how we can improve things,” said Mr Jonkers.

The commissioners will sit in on police reports, sector and community meetings and will be able to give their input and recommendations.

“We are creating an environment for young people to have their say and change our mindset as an older generation to combat the issues that young people are dealing with. We want to create a space for them to be comfortable and talk about the issues that plague young people so that we can possibly change our approach to help them,” said Colonel Laing.

Youth station commander Ruth Oliphant said she is looking forward to making positive changes and to be part of a committed group who want what’s best for their community.

“I aspire to inspire and hope to show my peers that we can help the CPF and police to help our communities. I am honoured to have been chosen and will work hard to have the voice of our youth heard.”