New commander on a mission

Brig Nokuthula Pete is calling on the community to work with the police to root out crime.PHOTO: unathi obose
Brig Nokuthula Pete is calling on the community to work with the police to root out crime.PHOTO: unathi obose

Trust and discipline, these are the most important things for Gugulethu’s new station commander, Brig Nokuthula Pete.

The 53-year-old officer took the reins at the station on Tuesday 18 August, replacing acting station commander Col Dumezweni Ntsezo.

While Pete is new to the Gugulethu community, she is no stranger to the police service. She joined the service at the age of 19, in 1986 and has held many senior positions at different police stations.

“I have 34 years in the service. I was a station commander at Bellville South police station from 2009 till 2013. Then I went to Caledon police station, also as a station commander from 2014 till July 2020. So, I’m not new in this position. My experience speaks volume,” Pete told City Vision.

Since taking over more than a month ago, Pete said she has been actively involved in the community to get first-hand information on issues. She hopes her arrival at the station would bring about change. “A week before I started working here I visited the station and some officers took me on a trip to get first-hand experience in terms of what they are dealing with. I noticed that in areas such as Barcelona and Phola Park as well as kwaKhikhi it’s difficult for police vans to go in. They have to leave their vans on the road and walk into the settlements which put their lives at risk,” Pete said.

Pete also lamented lawlessness, particularly among taxi drivers. She vowed to meet various community stakeholders to seek solutions to some of the prevailing challenges.

Also top on her agenda is the alarming number of carjackings. She promised to put measures in place to root out the trend.

“This is a serious matter that needs to be stopped because it puts the lives of commuters at risk. And what I’ve noticed when I was reading some of the reports here in most cases it seems these cars are hijacked just to find a getaway,” she said, adding that most vehicles are found hours later “nicely parked near the road”.

The treatment of victims of rape and gender-based violence (GBV) is another thing that is very close to her heart.

Pete promised to strengthen the fight against GBV by ensuring victims are given all the necessary support.

“The police have no right to turn away a victim because she or he is drunk. They must open a case because they don’t know what will happen when the victim arrives at home. I’ll assign a formidable team to deal with GBV and rape victims. This is a very sensitive matter that needs to be handled with care. How can you turn back a rape victim and order her to come back tomorrow morning?” she asked.

The mother of three girls described her job as challenging, but said she is up to the task.

“I always put God first in everything that I do. Being a woman and surrounded by men is challenging. There are men who resist accepting transformation. But what I like in the police (service) is that people are promoted based on their experience. So, even if he can resist, numbers don’t lie. I’m in this position on merit,” she said with a chuckle.

With her husband also in the police service, Pete said she does not have a lot of issues balancing work and family. “He understands the conditions that I work under. At home I’m not a brigadier, I’m a mother and wife. I know what to do and when,” she emphasised. The energetic and charismatic officer urged the community to work with the police in rooting out crime.

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