Mitchells Plain cabal behind my removal, ex-CPF chair says

Hanif Loonat. (Tammy Petersen, News24)
Hanif Loonat. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Cape Town - Neighbourhood watch members, crime victims and volunteers on Monday publicly backed former Mitchells Plain cluster community police forum chairperson Hanif Loonat who was last week ousted from his position in what he calls "a plot" to remove him.

Loonat was effectively removed from his position on Wednesday night during a monthly community police forum (CPF) meeting.

He claimed provincial CPF chairperson Andrew Lyon hijacked the meeting and submitted a letter listing a number of allegations against him.

These points, he believed, had been discussed with members of the majority of the CPF chairpersons, eight of whom signed the document calling for his resignation.

On Monday Lyon said he was not yet prepared to comment on what Loonat had said about him as he first wanted to see a statement of Loonat's comments.

He said he would be better prepared to comment on Tuesday.

Loonat to challenge process

At the press conference Loonat said he was aware of "deliberations and engagements by a cabal" within the Mitchells Plain cluster.

He slammed Lyon who he said acted in a procedurally "improper, unconstitutional and illegal" manner at the Wednesday meeting.

"I don't wish to defend the content of the concerned document but I would like to clarify certain points: I have never allowed myself to be recruited or ever been registered as an informer," he said at a media briefing attended by more than 50 crime-fighting volunteers.

"It is not in my nature to be manipulative and the views I express relate to my knowledge and experience as a crime fighter."

He said the "cabal" in the cluster had showed "absolute contempt of the [CPF] constitution" and that his removal was passed as a motion of no confidence, which doesn't comply with the constitution.

Loonat said he would appeal the processes followed in his removal with the provincial board and relevant authorities.

'He doesn't talk the job done, he does the job'

Neighbourhood watch members who attended proceedings carried posters reading "Hands off Loonat" and "Loonat for Cluster Chief".

Rashaad Carlson, who attended the media briefing, said Loonat's character was beyond reproach.

"He doesn't talk the job done, he does the job. He gets out of his bed to deal with issues. Show me another [CPF member] that does that," he said to murmurs of agreement from the volunteers.

"Usually when you outshine others, then they have a problem with you. Hanif is a class of his own. They want to pull him down because he is making [the rest of them] look like a bunch of plonkers."

Bangladeshi businessman Mustapha Goolam, who was kidnapped in December for a ransom of R10m and was found two days later in Khayelitsha, attended the meeting in support of Loonat.

"When Mustapha was kidnapped, we went to SAPS and they did nothing," another Bangladeshi said.

"Mr Loonat stood with us. That's why we are here."

Phone tapping threats

The decision for Loonat to step down evolved over "many months and after tough deliberation and thoughtful consultation", the letter signed by eight CPF chairpersons said.

"It is recognised that you have developed a highly manipulative public personality using print, broadcast and social media. It is unfortunate that media outlets and the people who follow you do not know how incredibly opportunistic and destructive you are behind the scenes."

The letter further states that Loonat caused harm to partnerships and intimidated members who disagreed with him.

"You continue to express views in public forums that represent your own opinions and not those of the collective whose mandate you seem to ignore. Your personal political ambitions have also impacted negatively on us, where we are clearly required to remain non-aligned and apolitical..."

Loonat has previously stood as a ward candidate for the ANC in Lansdowne, but has expressed his dissatisfaction with the ruling party in recent months.

Among the accusations being made by the letter's signatories is that Loonat has threatened to tap the phones of CPF board members to "expose unsubstantiated claims and allegations to silence members from speaking out", causing divisions within the structure and "paranoid behaviour" which sees anyone who disagrees with him ostensibly being viewed as an enemy.

He was also, in the letter, challenged for making statements to the media without the proper CPF mandate and for undermining the provincial CPF board after failing to be elected chairperson.

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