Cape Town – Anti-crime activists say they expect new acting Western Cape Police Commissioner Thembisile Patekile, who had his first full day on Monday, to bring strategic leadership and stability to the service police force of the province.
Patekile, who replaced Commissioner Yolisa Mokgabudi (formerly Matakata), comes from the Mount Road Cluster office in Port Elizabeth, where he was appointed District Commissioner for the Municipality of Nelson Mandela Bay in 2018.
Patekile said one of his plans would be to root illegal guns off the streets, claiming most of the murders, attempted murders, thefts and some of the cases of gender-based violence were committed with illegal guns .
He said that meant there was a proliferation of guns in the province, “therefore, we have to access this gun space, to save lives.”
Patekile said they had to make sure there was a partnership with community stakeholders, “because the crime is committed at the street and block level in the case of the Cape Flats and the squatter camps ”.
He said they also needed to tighten up their investigations to bring in people who have never been arrested for committing a crime, because they were still busy committing crimes.
“We will also be on a mission to crack down on taxi violence and organized crime such as extortion,” Patekile said.
He said he was looking forward to working with the Western Cape government, community policing forums (CPFs), ward wardens, metro police and city law enforcement officers.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said his working relationship with Matakata was marked by openness and transparency and thanked her for her service.
Matakata is expected to take on the role of Acting Divisional Commissioner: Crime Intelligence, which comes less than two years after taking over as the province’s top cop in December 2019.
It was amid previous allegations that his predecessor Khombinkosi Jula had failed to bring down the level of crime in the province at the time. Jula, who transferred to take the helm of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) from August 1, 2019, apparently left the police service last month.
However, Fritz said he was looking forward to working closely with Patekile on security issues in the province.
Whistleblower and community activist Colin Arendse said it was now clear the ‘Bantustan faction’ of the police was in charge, as they should have appointed Jeremy Vearey in the first place as he was the most experienced officer and the most diligent who not only knows how to tackle Cape Flats crime, but also has decades of experience investigating gang related crime.
Police Minister Bheki Cele’s spokesman Lirandzu Themba said Cele was being briefed by the National Police leadership about changes in the province.
The provincial president of the PCF, Fransina Lukas, expressed her concern at the constant change of provincial police commissioners and the instability it brought to the management of the police and the maintenance of order in the province.
“We need a stable environment where the police take center stage as recently released crime statistics have again shown the Western Cape to be the crime hotspot in the country,” said Lukas.
She said Patekile knew the province well and hoped he would do whatever it took to bring crime under control and take their hands as communities and work with them to tackle crime.
“Ultimately, the Western Cape needs a permanent and a local to occupy the seat of provincial commissioner. We cannot continue to occupy interim positions, ”she said.
ANC provincial spokesperson for community safety, Mesuli Kama, said Patekile was familiar with the challenges of the Western Cape and hoped he would continue to improve police services in the province, especially the integration of the community in the fight against crime, improve criminal intelligence and bring a police approach.
Police and Prison Civil Rights Union (Popcru) provincial secretary Mziwabantu Nqamra said they were not happy with the sudden move.
“We believe this will not do justice in our province. We will however be meeting with Patekile to make sure there are no gaps in the basics established by him and Matakata, ”Nqamra said.
Nqamra said the constant change of direction signals instability.
He said Matakata had played an important role in the province in a short period of time.
“Immediately when she was appointed Provincial Commissioner, she shared her vision of reducing crime and forging strong unity in her management by inheriting divided leadership,” he said.