The Thabong police station, situated about 140 kilometres from Bloemfontein, is the leading police station in South Africa.
The Southern Sotho word ‘thabong’ means a place of happiness, which the police members at the station try to emulate when serving the public.
The station won R15 000 prize money in the South African Police Service Excellence Awards, which will go towards buying new equipment for the community service area.
The man behind the success of the police station is Station Commander Cois Muller who says he has always wanted to be a policeman and serve the public.
Muller has been at the police station since 2009 and has made it his goal to ensure that the people of Thabong are served by policemen and women who are happy and efficient.
Besides being the leading police station in the country, the Thabong police station has been scooping provincial awards for the past three years for being the finest police station in the Free State.
Mojake Moholo is a community member of Thabong.
He says the staff of the police station is friendly and quick to help.
“When visiting other police stations, service usually takes time. When I come here I know I will get the service I need. The staff give you time to state your problem and try to assist you in whatever way they can. I am proud that a police station in my community is the best in the country.”
The management of the Thabong police station uses several methods to fight crime, which include mobilising the community.
Brigadier Muller and his team visit crèches, schools, the elderly, shack burn victims and taverns informing the community on the dangers of crime and how to work with police to make Thabong a better place.
Lieutenant Colonel Ntepe Motarafi, police officer working at the station, says she is proud of what the station has managed to achieve and also sees it as a learning curve in her career.
Lieutenant Colonel Motarafi works in the Community Service Centre and says she thinks the centre is the most important part of the police station because of its direct contact with the community.
She adds that working with the community can be a challenge but she enjoys it.
“What the public does not understand is that in order to curb crime they need to work with us. If a crime is committed they need to come forward with information to assist the police,”said Motarafi.
Some of the issues the police station deals with include illegal gold dust mining, illegal immigrants and alcohol abuse, which fuels other crimes.
The illegal immigrants come from the neighbouring countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi, according to Brigadier Muller.
“The mines have all closed down and you find people digging for gold dust which they mix with chemicals and it produces a small stone size gold,” says Muller.
The police station has a staff complement of 331 police officers servicing a population of 135 569 people.
Thabong has 482 trained community patrollers, who wear reflector jackets, working in 12 wards and form part of the Community Policing Forum (CPF).
Serake Leeuw, the chairperson of the CPF, said keeping Thabong safe was also the responsibilty of the community and should not be left to the police alone.
“If we want to clamp down on crime we have to work with the police. I have been in the CPF since 2011 because I think it is my responsibility too to live in a safe environment. I am very proud of the working relationship that we have with the station and we are working hard in eradicating crime in the area,” said Leeuw.