New Hout Bay police station commander Colonel Khuthala Nebhisi is on a mission to rebuild bridges between communities and the SAPS.
Although she has only been in the job a week, Colonel Nebhisi, 41, has been hard at work familiarising herself with the key challenges facing Hout Bay, including abalone poaching and drug abuse, as well as the apparent breakdown of trust between police and the community of Hangberg, in particular.
A 13-year veteran of the force, she was appointed to Hout Bay’s top position after stints in Hermanus and Philippi, where she served in the detective unit and Flying Squad respectively.
While she acknowledges that “each station is different”, she believes her experience in these precincts will stand her in good stead in respect of addressing Hout Bay’s myriad issues.
“Having been stationed at Hermanus, abalone poaching is not something new to me. The Hout Bay harbour is open at night, meaning that serious crimes can be committed under the cover of darkness. This is something I will definitely be focusing on,” she
“I am aware of what is going on, and it is a threat to everyone. There is illegal trade in drugs and firearms, and it is something that has to be stamped out.”
A key part of achieving her goals, she said, was to connect with all Hout Bay’s communities on a personal level.
“I believe you cannot do effective policing by sitting inside a building. The people of our communities must see me out there. I am a big believer in giving people hope.
“The message I want to get out to the communities is that they are our informers, and without them we cannot tackle crime. Our jobs depend on the communities we serve.”
The colonel is aware that there remains resentment over the Hout Bay riots of September 2010, which saw 62 people arrested following clashes between Metro police over the dismantling of illegal structures in Hangberg. Since that incident, tensions have continued to simmer between the community and police.
“Whatever bridges have been broken we need to rebuild again. There are challenges, but I have always been very passionate about what I do. I like to chase challenges, I like challenges. What is most important is that we do our best to work together.”
She said as police officers, their main focus was service delivery.
“I firmly believe that we need to treat everyone equally, regardless of their circumstances. Just because you may be arrested now, doesn’t mean that we will judge you as a person. Under my watch, you will always be treated with dignity and respect.
“I can already tell that Hout Bay’s communities are proud communities, and they go out of their way to help each other. I have only been here a week, but I have already received so much support from everyone.”
Away from the office, Colonel Nebhisi is also the mother of two children, an 11-year-old daughter who is still writing her exams in Hermanus, and a four-year-old son who has already joined her in Cape Town.
“You need the support of your family. I leave home very early in the morning and get back late at night, but there’s my son waiting up for me. It makes me feel very grateful, because sometimes I realise that not everyone is lucky to have that support.”
* Hout Bay police have warned the public to be weary of online scams.
“Many cases of fraud have been reported to the SAPS where complainants sold items/property on different websites and a deposit slip was forwarded to them as proof of payment. But when the bank statements are checked, it does not reflect, due to fraudulent paperwork or cheques that bounced,” said police spokesperson Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch.
“People that sell items must wait for the money to reflect in their bank account or do a cash transaction where possible. It is diffi-
cult to trace the perpetrators, due to the fact that the person collecting the items is not always the same person buying the items.”