PMB now has two ‘top cops’

2015-09-24 06:00
PHOTO: file

Pietermaritzburg Cluster Commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni.

PHOTO: file Pietermaritzburg Cluster Commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni.

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A NATIONAL initiative has chopped and changed the uMgungundlovu policing clusters, with two new ­police bosses emerging in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas.

The decision to rearrange the ­district’s 24 police precincts under two new clusters was announced at a meeting last Friday, and it has now been revealed that Mountain Rise’s Brigadier Francis Bantham and current Pietermaritzburg cluster commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni will command the newly created districts.

Colonel “Boxer” Pillay, a former station commander at Mountain Rise, is expected to take over the reins at that police station in an acting capacity. Bantham was the station commander prior to her promotion.

The call for the reshuffling was made at national level, in a move to align district municipalities and their resources with the police in an integrated fight against crime.

Previously, the uMgungundlovu District’s police precincts were divided into three clusters - Howick, Plessislaer and Pietermaritzburg.

With the new arrangement, which has been implemented in all large ­cities nationwide, the N3 highway would act as the border separating the districts into the northern ­uMgungundlovu and southern ­uMgungundlovu policing clusters.

Bantham would assume ­command of Mountain Rise, Howick, Bishopstowe, Cramond, Harburg, Wartburg, Boston, Impendle, Mpophomeni, New Hanover, Mooi River, Nottingham Road and Dalton.

Ngobeni would maintain his ­current mandate, but would extend his expertise into the former ­Plessislaer cluster.

He would therefore head up ­Pietermaritzburg, Alexandra, Prestbury, Townhill, Hilton, Plessislaer, Richmond, Taylor’s Halt, Thornville, Camperdown and Mid-Illovo.

The two cluster bosses agreed that the move would impact positively on the fight against crime in the region.

Bantham said the reorganisation would result in “streamlined” service delivery that would integrate all available resources to combat crime.

“We will integrate resources at district and local level in a plan to work together,” Bantham said.

Ngobeni said the police stations would not be directly affected in their daily operations.

“Nothing will change in terms of the duties or operations of ­policemen on the streets in these areas. All that will change is where they will be co-ordinated from,” he said.

At this stage, the implementation of the initiative is said to be still in progress, as Bantham moves to new cluster offices in Willowton Road. The two clusters would be kept completely separate, but would, however, collaborate when the need arose. Bantham said the move would now allow her and Ngobeni to ­implement their individual ­crime-fighting techniques.

“My first aim is to create unity among the members in my cluster and send out a message that change can in fact be good. Officers will join hands with each other and with the community in crime fighting,” she said.

Ngobeni responded by emphasising his endeavour to establish ­effective community-based police structures like the youth desk.

“We are going to add a lot more to what we are currently doing,” he said.

Police national spokesperson General Solomon Makgale said a statement regarding the country-wide initiative would be released this week. He offered no further comment

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