When Lieutenant Colonel Bongani Mtakati was appointed as the Hout Bay station commander in July 2013, he had his work cut out for him.
And despite having little structures in place at the time, his leadership skills and passion for his work has turned the Hout Bay police station around.
There has been a dramatic drop in crime and the station was nominated in 2014 as the number one police station – out of 150 – in the Western Cape in terms of a decrease in crime and good management.
And while there are still many ongoing challenges in the bay, Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati is now handing over the reigns to a new station commander after he was promoted to full colonel and transferred to Khayelitsha.
“I am sad to leave here as there is still a lot to do and Hout Bay is very close to my heart,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati attributes his success to the partnerships formed with NPOs such as the Community Crime Prevention (CCP), Community Cohesion, Community Police Forum (CPF) and the Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch (HBNW).
“I will miss the commitment of these people who have a passion for fighting crime. I am very passionate about my work and I enjoyed working with like-minded people,” he said.
When he first came to Hout Bay, crime was out of hand and domestic violence, drug abuse and robberies were rife in the valley.
One of many strategies implemented in the past three years was a sub-forum to recruit members for the HBNW from different areas.
He further consulted the community about how they wanted to be policed, thus building a strong relationship between the community and the police.
“It is how you face your challenges that make a difference,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati.
He feels that he was successful in his vision due to his leadership skills.
“My team responded well to my leadership style along with the community and the success of the station can be contributed to teamwork,” he said.
His advice to the new station commander is to take the hands of the community and to work with them and to respect them.
“This community is very committed and if the new station commander shows them respect and works with them he or she will earn their respect,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati started his career in 1992 as a captain at Cape Town Central and as he moved up in rank, he also moved from suburb to suburb, working in Kraaifontein, Bellville, Strand, Claremont and Table Bay Harbour.
His hope for Hout Bay is that the hard work of all crime fighting parties will continue.
He said he wanted to thank the members of the CCP, Community Cohesion, CPF and the HBNW for all their hard work and commitment to the community.
“Keep up the good work and remember that I will always be available for advice and will just be a phone call away,” he said.
CPF chairman, Toby Adams, said the CPF would like to congratulate Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati on being rewarded for his efficiency and effectiveness by recently being promoted to full colonel.
“With this promotion comes greater responsibility, and his appointment as station commander in Khayelitsha is a loss to Hout Bay.
“Working with Colonel Mtakati has been a pleasure, thanks to his fair, honest and conscientious nature and work ethic. Colonel Mtakati will be missed, but we wish him all the best in his new role, and look forward to meeting his successor in the near future,” Mr Adams said.
CCP chairman JJ De Villiers said he formally met Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati about three years ago and they immediately got along.
“I could see that he was passionate about his job and wanted the same thing as many of us in Hout Bay wanted, a crime-free Hout Bay. I then became chairman of the Hout Bay and Llandudno CPF and worked extremely closely with Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati and his team at SAPS and one just has to look at the crime trends in Hout Bay and in particular Imizamo Yethu to see the difference this man has made,” Mr De Villiers said.
Mr De Villiers said CCP was the brainchild of Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati, Keri Cross, Frith Stables and himself, about 18 months ago.
“Since our inception and due to massive help from SAPS, CCP’s and HBN Watchcon members, we’ve been able to influence the crime trends in a positive way. I knew the day would come that this man would get promoted and move on but obviously wish we could keep him a while longer. The man affectionately named Colonel is now a colonel and will be moving to Khayelitsha where I’m sure he will be as much of a positive influence as he was here. Thank you, Colonel, and I hope we get to remain friends for a long time to come.
“Hamba kakuhle (go well),” Mr De Villiers said.
Community Cohesion’s Bronwyn Moore said Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati is an extraordinary man.
“He is dedicated, committed and not afraid of calling things as he saw it, even if he knew that his forthrightness might be controversial, and then in the next breath expecting the same service excellence from all who partnered in some way with him at SAPS.
“If I went to him with a community problem, he would look at me and say: ‘Bronwyn, make a plan, come back with a solution’.
“That was the nature of our relationship, a solutions-based one and I will really miss him for that; being a sounding board and for challenging me and my team to do even better, to deliver more and to be resourceful,” she said.
She added that he did not tolerate people who said one thing and did not deliver; he saw it as a waste of time and energy. “He constantly challenged all of us.
“I might not miss his very early morning calls to bounce an idea off me or task me with something (JJ can relate to that as well) but I will definitely miss his energy, his demand for delivery and accountable solutions, his drive and open door policy to anyone who wanted to be part of a vision he had for Hout Bay.
“We will miss him tremendously,” she said.
Former HBNW chairman, Allan Dellbridge said he has worked very closely with Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati.
“He is a very committed SAPS officer and took Hout Bay to his heart. He rightfully earned the respect of all his officers at Hout Bay SAPS as well as much respect from the greater Hout Bay community. We shall miss his enthusiasm and commitment,” Mr Dellbridge said.
Andrew Martin, HBNW chairman, said Lieutenant Colonel Mtakati has been a tremendous asset to the Hout Bay Community and they have been fortunate to have someone of his calibre managing the area, despite the limited personnel resources that were available to him.
“We wish him well in his new endeavour and hope that his replacement will be able to continue the work that he has done and to the standards that he has set,” he said.