Whistle-blower exposes crime crisis in plush Durban suburb

2015-07-16 21:08

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Durban - The premier suburb of Westville is in the grip of a crime wave that has reached crisis proportions, following the brutal slaying of a prominent businessman on Tuesday.

Now a community policing forum leader has broken rank and lifted the lid on an under-resourced police force with low morale, bound to a station which has been crippled by a leadership vacuum.

Speaking to News24, Westville CPF chairperson Mike Myers said that the murder of Yashin Bagwandeen on Tuesday had been the crest of a crime wave which was sweeping over one of the city’s most sought after areas.

Bagwandeen, also an active member of the community policing effort, died in a hail of bullets trying to protect his family when gunmen conned their way onto his property posing as potential customers.

His murderers remain at large.  

Myers said the situation and the lax response from police management had pushed him to veer from protocol.

“Crime in Westville is at a crisis point and senior management [SAPS] at the station and cluster need to acknowledge this and present a documented plan to the CPF on how they are going to deal with it,” he said.

Myers said that, with the promotion of the erstwhile station commander and the retirement of a senior officer who anchored morale at the station, Westville SAPS was a rudderless ship.

“Westville has experienced an increase in serious and violent crime over the past month to six weeks and in particular the past two weeks. These crimes include hijackings, house robberies and now the murder.”

“This has been discussed at CPF meetings and we have asked that the current commander provide us with a plan to combat this and bring it under control.

"To date, the only commitment we have had is that the members are running extra patrols. To the members' credit, they have made a few good arrests related to certain crimes,” Myers said.

Myers said that over four months ago, when the last station commander had been promoted and was expected to leave the province, he had tried to approach the cluster commander of the area to apprise her of his concerns.

'Lacking quality leadership'

He alleges that the commander cancelled one meeting and didn't show to the second.

“I have never received an apology. This is especially offensive, as members of the CPF like myself are businessmen that volunteer our time to the cause and can at times ill afford the waste of time.”

“The main point I wanted to make to the cluster commander was that they had a very well managed station in Westville and that it would be a feather in their cap if they appointed the right commander to take over and maintain the management level.

"This meeting has never transpired and with the recent events we are even more determined to ensure that the right person be appointed to the job, so far as to say is that we would like to be part of the interview and selection panel,” he said.

“Westville has some really good policemen, going even as far as to say the vast majority of them. These members work extremely hard at fighting crime in Westville and work very closely with the community and the CPF members.

“It is, however, becoming very evident that these members are lacking quality leadership and it is impacting on their morale.

"If it wasn't for their commitment to the community, I think these members would be falling into a huge hole.

"To be quite honest, I don't think the acting station commander understands just what a crisis the station is in.

"As the chairman of the CPF I must thank all the committed and passionate policemen and women at the station on behalf of the CPF and the community. They are Westville's valuable assets and need to be looked after,” he said. 

All the allegations were put to the police through official spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane, who acknowledged receipt of the e-mail but had not been able to comment at the time of publishing. 

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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