Upping war on criminals

New cluster commander Major-General Thembisile Patekile at the Mount Road police station
Picture: Mark West

Experienced new top cop in town vows to clean up streets

There is a new sheriff in town and he has vowed to take back the streets and tackle criminals and gangs head-on with a zero-tolerance approach. Veteran police officer Major-General Thembisile Patekile, 56, took up his new post as Mount Road cluster commander on Monday after moving to the Bay from Komani.

The cluster of police stations Patekile will oversee includes the Humewood, Walmer, Mount Road, Gelvandale, Bethelsdorp, Kabega Park and Algoa Park policing areas.

Patekile was born in a small village near Port St Johns, where he grew up looking after his family’s livestock.

“I come from a poor background and I spent most of my spare time helping my father with the sheep and cattle. This is what made me the man I am today, it taught me responsibility,” he said.

Asked why he had joined the police, in 1985, Patekile said that one day he saw a policeman walking in town, talking and shaking hands with people.

“I saw this man and he was so neat, well dressed and proud to be a policeman. You could see it in the way he walked,” he said.

“He was friendly with everyone and I thought to myself, I want to be like him.

“This is what piqued my interest in the police from a very young age.

“At that stage I knew when I left school I was going to join the police.”

The seasoned policeman has spent almost his entire career in the operational running of the police and, only two years ago, he headed the entire Western Cape police force.

A passionate Patekile, who is also an advocate and holds a policing degree, said he was going to clamp down on crime by taking a scientific approach.

“I can tell you that change is here. We are in a competition with criminals and it is my job to make sure we win.

“So far, we are winning and I will make sure we carry on winning,” he said.

“If we have the community behind us, we can stand up together and we will be a force to be reckoned with.”

Patekile said he believed in working with the community – both residents and businesses.

“We cannot fight crime alone, that is a fact. We need every person and every business to stand up and help – we need you to make the streets safe.

“I want to see more neighbourhood watches and more street committees in all these areas.

“The more people who join these, the more chance we have of rooting out crime and catching criminals.

“Together, we will not allow a few criminals to terrorise the entire city and suburbs – it is not going to happen.”

Patekile started his career at the KwaNobuhle police station in Uitenhage as a constable. In 1987, he transferred to the Cathcart police station as a sergeant. He stayed there for two years before moving to Queenstown.

In 1992, Patekile was promoted to warrant officer and by 1994 to lieutenant – all in Queenstown.

In 1999, he took up a post at Dutywa, near Mthatha, as station commander and by 2001 he had moved back to Komani (Queenstown) with the rank of colonel, to head up that police station.

In 2005, while in Komani, he was promoted to brigadier before moving to Alice, near Fort Beaufort, in 2008 to do his first stint as cluster commander.

By 2010 he had moved to the provincial office, where he headed up all police operations across the province.

In 2013, Patekile moved to George as cluster commander before being appointed as deputy provincial commissioner of the Western Cape.

Following the suspension of the then Western Cape provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer, in 2015, Patekile was made acting provincial commissioner for a year.

Lamoer was suspended after being arrested on charges of corruption.

Last year, Patekile returned to Komani, where he was cluster commander, before moving to Port Elizabeth.

Asked what his plans were, Patekile said gangs, guns and drugs were at the top of his list.

“We are going to tackle crime aggressively. Repeat offenders must watch out as you are on the top of the list and I will put you back in jail.

“It is also well known that drug users commit crime to feed their habit.

“You have to cut the head off the snake to stop the drug lords and then the users will follow,” he said.

“We will get these drug lords off our streets. We are formulating plans to address this issue.”

Patekile said his strategic approached involved analysing daily crime statistics from each police station to establish trends.

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