New head at dodgy police station

2009-12-21 00:00

CHAOS, ill discipline, low morale, contravention of regulations and corruption have severely dented the reputation of Mountain Rise police station in the past 20 years.

The station’s public image deteriorated in the early 1990s when Devan Williams, Anilraj Singh, Praven Ramdas, Norman Mchunu and Kriementhren Maistry, all SAPS members at the station, were convicted of four murder charges and other crimes.

Pietermaritzburg Supreme Court Judge Justice Wilson stated in his conclusion after convicting the five in 1994 that there was a lack of high regard for the law.

Following allegations of crime statistics manipulation, the station has experienced a shake-up. A fresh intervention has uncovered more irregularities at the station and the former station commissioner, Harirram Badul, is facing fraud and theft charges totalling R467 000.

Part of the intervention saw the appointment of acting station commissioner Peter Moloi (48). The appointment would seem to be a step down, since he was provincial police director in the Free State province.

But in an interview with The Witness, Moloi said he sees his appointment as a “challenge, and is humbled and honoured” by the appointment.

He received an instruction from the national office to leave his province for the first time to work in a foreign city. His task is to turn things around at the station, restore public trust, revive members’ morale, clean out corruption and ensure service delivery among other things.

“I got into my car and drove to Pietermaritzburg. I had an idea of what Mountain Rise was like. The perception that had been created that it’s a corrupt station made it sound as if the whole system was on the brink of collapse.”

Having joined the force in 1983, Moloi said experience has taught him that his appointment as acting station commissioner means taking command of the station and ensuring continued service delivery.

“The SAPS has an obligation to protect and serve its communities in addition to the investigation of all reported and alleged crimes. Another task is to bring stability internally and to continue building community-police relations in furtherance of crime prevention initiatives.”

On arrival, Moloi said he had to find a way to be accepted as new head of the station and decided to call meetings with “the core management, general commissioned officers, both at visible policing and detectives, Public Service Act personnel, cleaners and detainees”.

He admits that the atmosphere was foreign to him, but said because of SAPS code of conduct and command structure, he quickly adapted to his position and everybody else adapted.

He said that despite the allegations, most members at the station are dedicated and competent. “I found out the general corruption about Mountain Rise was blown out of proportion in that Mountain Rise as a whole was portrayed negatively while factually only a very small number of individuals were involved in activities that made the station popular for the wrong reasons.

“This collective blame caused collateral damage to the image and honour of trustworthy and loyal members. However, I immediately felt at home in this police station.”

Moloi held a meeting with the broader Community Policing Forum and listened to community submissions.

“It was agreed that sector policing must be implemented immediately, with councillors and community participation as a primary requirement”. It was also agreed to start crime prevention projects in the communities.

“We must police according to what the community tells us, because there are other social ills that the communities themselves understand better.”

Moloi said other role-players in fighting crime, such as the municipality, NGOs, private security companies and community-based organisations will be brought on board.

He said there are short-, medium- and long-term commitments to bring stability to the station.

“It will all depend on the problems identified and the solutions to these problems. It is a matter of implementing, monitoring and evaluating solutions to the internal problems and establishing structures to ensure that these allegations are eradicated completely.

“The correct capturing of crime is in place at the station, crime incidents reported at the station are now registered correctly. We acknowledge the mistakes that have been made but it’s not all gloom and doom.”

Moloi’s strategy to restore discipline and regard for the law as well as reviving the morale of members at Mountain Rise is to implement regulations.

“The SAPS has its internal disciplinary code which is governed by regulations and one should not hesitate to implement them. This will automatically boost the morale of members. The finalisation of the investigations will also be a positive for the morale of members”.

Moloi is expected to mentor his successor, but it is not clear when hewill leave Mountain Rise.

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