The newly appointed station commander at Sea Point police station has called on the community to work closely with police and to remember that they are human beings doing a difficult job.
“As a police officer, there are things that you see in different scenes every day that some people won’t ever see in their lifetime,” says Lieutenant Colonel Helena Mouton.
“Your view on life changes and you learn how short life is and how quickly it can be taken away. Suicides, murders, accidents. Contrary to what people think, we still have emotions, we’re humans, we try to live normal lives under abnormal circumstances.”
Lieutenant Colonel Mouton, a permanent appointment after years of the station being led by seniors in an acting capacity, brings with her a wealth of experience and is the first woman to run the station.
Lieutenant Mouton started her police career right after completing matric in 1993. She has served in the Rondebosch VIP Protection unit, worked in Simon’s Town and Fish Hoek police stations. She became a commissioned officer in 2005, serving in Ocean View as a captain in charge of the Visible Police Department. She also worked as a station commander at Ocean View, acting station commander in Muizenberg and served in Pinelands as the station commander for the past six years.
Lieutenant Mouton says she’s well aware of the challenges that the community of Sea Point is facing because Pinelands and Sea Point are part of the Cape Town cluster.
“Property crime is mostly a concern in this area and other socio-economic crimes.”
She said she may not have had beach problems and the vagrants in Pinelands but working in Ocean View and Muizenberg taught her a lot about such issues, says Lieutenant Mouton.
“For the week and a half that I’ve been in here, I’ve noticed a lot of issues such as the vagrants and the issues outside of crime that we need to focus on because sometimes they are the elements that bring crime in the area and we have to look at those as well.”
She says she aims to build a good working relationship between the community and the police. “When you start working at SAPS, you get told that whenever you go out to a complaint, and even if it’s your 100th one, the complainant must feel like they are a top priority and that it’s the only complaint you’ve taken on that day,” says Lieutenant Mouton.
“Sometimes you go to a scene where someone has been killed in an accident. You have to come and still work 12 hours with this in mind. You get back and go to a civil matter such as a neighbour’s dog barking for hours and you must treat that exactly the same as this complainant who’s just lost a child. It’s expected of us to continue to work under these circumstances.”
Lieutenant Mouton says she’s happy that the community seems to be involved in fighting crime in the area and that law enforcement, the CID, the security industry and neighbourhood watches all seem to be helping to combat crime in the area.
She also urges the community to provide police with feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. “It is a difficult job,” she says.
“Sometimes things happen and the members come back traumatised by a scene and they are not at their best when they attend to your complaint. But the community needs to know that a little thank you, that one phone call or letter that they send to us, can sometimes be all they need to get back and perform better again. We always appreciate the input from the community.”