Well done W/O Du Plessis, we need more like you

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

AS A par­ent of two daugh­ters, aged 22 and 18, it touched my heart to read the re­port (Week­end Ar­gus, De­cem­ber 24) about Mrs Dolores Cys­ter who found her daugh­ter, John­nica Bai­ley, af­ter nearly two decades.

My heart­felt grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion goes to War­rant Of­fi­cer Ni­cholas du Plessis of the Fam­ily Vi­o­lence, Child Pro­tec­tion and Sex­ual Of­fences Unit for solv­ing the case. I agree with Western Cape Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, Arno Lamoer, that we need more po­lice of­fi­cers who are still ded­i­cated, es­pe­cially af­ter 25 years of ser­vice.

How­ever, I need to ask: Are of­fi­cers like Du Plessis a dy­ing breed? I am per­plexed about why it took so long for John­nica to be found, con­sid­er­ing that all the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion to as­sist with this in­ves­ti­ga­tion was at hand?

Is it once again a case of our po­lice sys­tem fail­ing the very peo­ple whom they are sup­posed to serve?

Clearly they failed the fam­ily of Mrs Cys­ter.

In the two years since the dis­ap­pear­ance of her two-year-old daugh­ter, she searched in hope. Af­ter trav­el­ling to Port El­iz­a­beth, Mrs Cys­ter went to the po­lice for help. She had all the in­for­ma­tion that was needed, in­clud­ing the ad­dress, names and dates.

What I find even more dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend is that over the next 18 years she of­ten went back to the po­lice to make en­quiries.

Why did it take 18 years for the po­lice to find Mrs Cys­ter’s daugh­ter? This calls for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. I hope that Lamoer will ap­ply his mind and ask some ques­tions. I also urge the Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Fo­rum of Mitchells Plain to launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into why the po­lice failed this fam­ily.

This kind of fail­ure of­ten hap­pens in our com­mu­ni­ties. We have a crit­i­cal short­age of Ni­cholas Du Plessis’s in our po­lice sta­tions. Why are the Ni­cholas du Plessis’s who ap­ply their minds and see peo­ple as hu­man be­ings, moth­ers and fathers, broth­ers and sis­ters who walk into their sta­tions or of­fices need­ing and hop­ing for help, in such short sup­ply?

I am touched by Mrs Cys­ter’s ded­i­ca­tion and per­sis­tence.

Of­ten peo­ple do not re­alise that they have ac­cess to stat­u­ary bod­ies like the Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Safety or the lo­cal branch of the Com­mu­nity Po­lice Fo­rum. These in­sti­tu­tions are there to help them where they feel that the po­lice failed them. I urge peo­ple to at­tend these lo­cal meet­ings and be­come in­volved in their com­mu­nity struc­tures. It is in our best in­ter­ests that we work to­gether to avoid such fail­ures.

This is clearly a case of po­lice ne­glect and in my opinion, should be high­lighted as such – some­thing the reporter did not do.

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