Row over community safety forum plan

In a bid to boost the city’s efforts at crime prevention, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality wants to establish a new community safety forum (CSF) made up of the police, private sector, NGOs, councillors and various government departments.

While it is in the process of establishing a metro police force, the municipality wants a separate forum that will focus solely on the safety of the community.

Councillors locked horns at a safety and security committee meeting yesterday as the DA argued that it was not necessary to have a separate forum and that the CSF should be incorporated into the metro police.

Safety and security executive director Shane Brown wants council’s blessing to hire two staff to head up the CSF in the interim.

They would be in charge of getting the forum off the ground, drawing up community safety plans, and facilitating stakeholder engagements towards creating safer communities.

The operating costs of the forum for the two staff would be about R496 000 for the year, which excludes their basic salaries.

The money is for their travel costs, subsistence allowances, training, furniture and equipment, and stationery and telephones.

Brown eventually wants a staff structure of about 20 officials to run the CSF office.

DA councillor Gustav Rautenbach said: “This structure can fit into the metro police once it’s established.

“We want to give half a million rand for two people when we can use that money towards setting up the metro police.”

The municipality is in the process of establishing the metro police force by amalgamating the traffic and safety and security departments.

It is still unclear when it will be officially launched.

Brown said there was currently a gap, which meant there was no formal forum that was focused on community safety.

“We are trying to get the metro police up and running, but we do need the community safety forum to handle matters of the community.

“There is no one dedicated to community safety and if we don’t establish the forum I’m afraid it will just fall away,” Brown said.

A budget and treasury official warned that Brown’s department had to first ascertain if there was money available to start the CSF.

ANC councillor Xolani Bisset said: “As the ANC, we agree that we need community safety forums and we support the matter. We feel that the matter should be taken to the full council for consideration.”

But Rautenbach said it was illegal to support an item without establishing if there was a budget available for its implementation.

Committee chairman Thembinkosi Mafana said Brown had to first get authorisation from the city treasury before the CSF could be approved.

– Rochelle de Kock 

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