A public participation strategy for Community Policing Forums : the case of Tlokwe Local Municipality
Morebodi, Tsietsi John
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In any democratic dispensation public participation is a wide spread concern and highly topical to guide a discourse on openness, transparency, and inclusiveness in government. The importance and contribution of public participation to a healthy and developing democracy should not be underestimated. There are various forms of public participation that are known in the literature. They range from general consultation, submission of comments to public institutions, to direct negotiations and interaction. In the South African Police Service, the notion and principles of public participation are embedded in a modern community policing approach. This approach was adopted by the South African Government post-1994. The concept Community Policing is generally about making policing more community-centred through the active engagement of community members in the affairs of the police. Community policing is multidimensional in addressing social problems such as crime and poverty. It also involves community empowerment to guide the community in addressing their own challenges. To give operational impetus to a community policing approach, Community Policing Forums (CPFs) have been established as a mechanism to foster public participation in general and active community engagement in policing matters in particular. The roles of CPFs are entrenched in national legislation and a comprehensive regulatory framework further guide the functioning of these structures. The functioning of these CPFs is, however, not without challenges. By following a qualitative case study design, this study investigated the particular challenges associated with public participation in the CPFs of the Tlokwe Local Municipality (TLM). The study has been conducted in the three police stations of TLM, namely Potchefstroom, Ikageng and Buffelshoek. The aim of this study was to present the need for the development of a comprehensive strategy to enhance public participation in CPFs in TLM. Such a strategy is suggested as main solution to address the variety of challenges identified.