Police seek end to attacks on patrol vans

Hout Bay police vehicles have been targeted by vandals in Hangberg.

Hout Bay police say they want to strengthen relations with Hangberg after patrol vans were vandalised in the neighbourhood.

There were several cases of police vehicles being vandalised in Hangberg last year. Last month, two vans were targeted in separate incidents.

One van had its tyres slashed and deflated and another had a brick thrown at it.

“These incidents took place while the patrol vans were attending to complaints,” said Hout Bay police station commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Syster.

“One vehicle is allocated to a sector with only two members. When a vehicle is vandalised, this creates a shortage of vehicles in that specific sector and a delay in attending complaints.”

The officers had to often leave the vehicles in deserted areas to respond to complaints, so it could be hard to identify the culprits, he said, adding that those responsible were likely trying to deflect attention from other criminal activity in the area.

“This is their way of drawing attention away from their illegal activities,” Lieutenant Colonel Syster said.

Hout Bay SAPS would try to build up relationships and establish partnerships in the community to improve service delivery, he said, adding that meetings would be held with neighbourhood watch members and patrollers.

“The involvement of the community is of utmost importance and SAPS need the assistance of the community in reporting crime and sharing of information so that SAPS can render an excellent service,” he said.

Hout Bay Community Police Forum chairman Anthony Chemaly said the CPF planned to hold a community meeting in Hangberg.

“The CPF are focused on assisting SAPS and the Hangberg community in building a positive and constructive relationship that allows crime prevention to be effective in the area.

“It’s only when the community works hand in hand with SAPS and mutual trust begins to develop that effective crime prevention can occur, together,” he said.

Sentinel News sought the view of several Hangberg residents on the issue, but none would comment.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said most Hangberg residents were law abiding and  horrified by the activities of “a small minority… who resort to violent thuggery with impunity”.

A criminal economy, buoyed by “dogfighting, poaching, drugs, illegal and unregulated building” as well as other activities, appeared to have created a “well organised and militant group of persons who are determined to make Hangberg ungovernable”, he said.

He added: “I commend the new station commander on his proactive approach to applying the rule of law, and I am certain that the community, the majority of the community, welcome a SAPS official who is willing to enforce law and order and make inroads toward returning Hangberg to the suburb of potential that it can and should be.”