New top cop reveals his plan

2015-03-14 00:00

THERE’S a new sheriff in town.

Taking up the cudgels in the fight against crime in the city is the new cluster commander, Major-General Lucas ­Ngobeni.

So who exactly is the man in the rigid blue uniform ­bordered with gold stars who has taken charge of Pietermaritzburg’s police force?

In an interview with Ngobeni, husband of Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye ­Ngobeni, he described himself as a family-orientated sportsman who is determined to tackle crime and improve service delivery to the public.

Ngobeni acquired Pietermaritzburg’s top police spot at the beginning of this month, taking the reins of cluster commander from Brigadier Francis Bantham, who had been acting in the post since last year.

Ngobeni sat down with the Weekend Witness over snacks — in line with his strict diet, he only ate the cucumber garnish — and a cup of tea to reflect on his past and determine his goals for the city as the year progresses.

Born in Limpopo in 1965, Ngobeni, who was and still is an avid sportsman, joined the police force as a constable in 1984. Reflecting on years past, he recalled one case that stood out for him from back when he first joined the force.

“A nanny was murdered at her home and there was no evidence or any clues, but I managed to track down the suspects and they each got life sentences,” he said proudly.

After ascending the ranks, Ngobeni began his management career in the SAPS in 1995. With 20 years of experience, he now holds top status as a major-general here in Pietermaritzburg, up from his previous post as brigadier in charge of the Phoenix cluster.

“I appreciate the confidence of the national police commissioner in me. I know what she has sent me here for and what she expects me to do for the city. I am here to ­uphold the visions and ­missions of the police force,” Ngobeni said.

Married since 1989, Ngobeni and his wife have three children aged between 10 and 22.

Between himself and his top cop wife, Ngobeni said they have little spare time because they are kept busy with work and events, but given the opportunity he prefers spending time with his family.

“We like to braai on the weekends and I cycle along the beachfront in the afternoons after work,” he said.

“Right now I go to the gym and run as well, but not to compete, just for health ­purposes.”

Focusing on what he plans to do for Pietermaritzburg in terms of policing, Ngobeni said that improving service delivery is the key element.

“If we improve the relationship with the community, we can tighten our grip on crime. We won’t let the phone ring over and over again before it is picked up to help, and we will give appropriate feedback to bridge the gap that criminals use to their advantage,” he said.

Ngobeni said he will be maintaining the crime prevention programmes already in place and initiate a multi-disciplinary approach between all security sectors, as well as the municipality, to combat all types of illegal activity.

“We will also target repeat offenders, so we will be using our war rooms effectively ­because most of the crime is conducted by them,” he said.

In terms of challenges, ­Ngobeni confidently said that he will face any challenge, but the only foreseeable obstacle he sees right away is the ­increased rate at which officers are resigning.

“We need two or three years to train another ­candidate to replace an officer. Lots of officers are leaving to private security agencies and this needs to be rectified. But other than that, I can deal with anything,” he said.


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