Leading from the front

Lieutenant Colonel Monwabisi Buzwayo has taken over at Ocean View police station.

There’s a new sheriff in town in Ocean View, and he’s vowed to give the gangs and drug lords who have longed plagued the area nowhere to hide.

The reality that both Ocean View and Masiphumelele have known, increasingly, in the past two years, has been grim, and both communities had lost hope, and faith in the police.

But now Lieutenant Colonel Monwabisi Buzwayo has taken over at Ocean View police station, and his message is clear: he will have no corruption in his station; he will give criminals no quarter and he will do all he can to rebuild the broken communities he serves.

“I will not hesitate,” he said, in an interview with the Echo last week. “If the community comes to me with evidence or good information about any corruption at Ocean View station, I will act on it. We will not have that, here. This community needs to know that they can come to us, that they can trust us, that we are here to protect them,” he said.

The Ocean View precinct is a world away from the Winelands village of McGregor, where Lieutenant Colonel Buzwayo was station commander, but he said his stint there had taught him the importance of building a strong community partnership.

“McGregor is a small place, but our relationship with our community there was outstanding. And we had, in that small area, 72 neighbourhood watches.”

He has already met with members of the Ocean View Community Police Forum, and he said he looked forward to working with them.

“Clear communication with all sectors of the community is absolutely vital to the success of the service that we, as SAPS, can provide,” he said.

“People in the community know and see things. In McGregor, we set up different WhatsApp groups, and even if someone saw a suspicious person just walking down the street, they would tell us. We were well connected to everything that was happening in that area. I plan to create that same level of communication with my communities here.”

He said he was well aware of his new precinct’s bitter history, and the drug turf wars would be a top priority.

I know there have been gangs shooting here, day and night. I am well aware of the challenges I am faced with. And that is why I am here,” he said, urging communities to again have faith in the station and not judge it on their past experiences.

He said he wanted to involve youth and business forums, build up community patrols and create a network of partnerships with locals to aid crime prevention.

“Anything is possible; together, we can do anything,” he said. “When the people of a community are separated from one another, then the criminals conquer. We need to come together and be as one, stand together against crime.”

His career began in 2002, and he has worked his way up from Dutywa police station in the Eastern Cape, through the Butterworth cluster there, and as a visible-policing coordinator at Mthatha police station before taking over as station commander at McGregor. He took over officially at Ocean View on Monday November 13 and was introduced to the CPF at an executive committee meeting, at the multi-purpose centre, on Wednesday November 15.

He also met the members of the Six Sisters Neighbourhood Watch and thanked them for sacrificing their time to make the community safer.

“The world needs more people like you,” he told them.

Over the years, there have been many rallies and marches against crime in the area and complaints that SAPS has failed to deal with the problem. Residents have described themselves as a forgotten community, ignored and neglected by the authorities.

But Kathy Cronje, chairwoman of the Ocean View CPF, has welcomed Lieutenant Colonel Buzwayo’s appointment, saying the community was sure to feel satisfied that their voices would now be heard.