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CPF: What They Wont Tell You (or Simply Dont Know)
When I first became involved with neighbourhood watches in our town - everything seemed pretty clear. Us residents are the eyes and ears of SAP end everyone discusses ways to cooperate in the CPF. Simple. One big happy family, where - in the words of a film character "everything is just frikkin awesome". Then I became aware that we are in the real world and - unfortunately not in Utopia yet. In Utopia everyone act according to their best conscience and just want to do "the right thing". Then it became more complicated. Personalities come into play, some think that the "means" are justified by their idea of a good "end", there are entrenched interests to be protected and people begin to act in strange ways. Not to talk about SAPS's Blue Line, which thou shall not cross. It became clear that we need to manage a situation a bit far "East of Eden", making it important for everyone to know the our rights and the facts about the legislation and institutions by which we are organised in terms of community security.
In the course of trying to get to the truth, a few of us spoke with the proper authorities on these issues. An officer who were influential in designing CPF guidelines in RSA stated that we start moving on dangerous territory if neighbourhood watches start collecting money on monthly basis from residents. A bit of a Catch 22, because how must a service delivery institution or reaction force operate without funds? But - here is the issue: Neighbourhood Watches are not allowed to evolve into any one of these two, otherwise they become security companies who must act according to the PSIRA Act. Though - the authorities seem to be lenient on this issue, since there is a current gap to be filled and SAP needs all the help they can get. Until an untrained community member gets injured or worse. Or - if an innocent community member gets injured or worse due to overzealous neighbourhood watch members. Yes - we all feel emotional, but we need to stay within the limits of the law, otherwise our whole effort is endangered. A conundrum on which we need to have an open discussion in our town.
The second authority - officials very high up in SAPS - got visibly upset when we indicated that there are cases in our town where community members are forced to sign documents of "Non-Disclosure". That is - public meetings that are actually secret. This practice raises red flags everywhere.
The third authority - a well known criminologist - indicated that SAP generals asked him the difference between CPF and SCCF. He explained to them: CPF has a strategic, planning and oversight function, while the SCCF has an operational function. Oversight over SAPS is defined in the SAPS Act where the CPF shall: "Improve transparency in the Service and accountability of the Service to the community". SAPS can not do oversight over themselves.
The following diagram shows the difference between the CPF and SCCF - institutions which are not separated in our town, while adding to the confusion about SAP's and the community's role and functions:
Hope this article helps to bring a bit clarity and empowers the SAPS and residents of Harties to take the right decisions.