The Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation hosted the first lunch with MPs for 2015 in March. This lunch, held at the Townhouse Hotel, was attended by a cross section of people, ranging from academics to on the ground activists to a diplomat; each in their own way having leverage in different public spaces. The speaker, the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police and ANC MP, Mr Francois Beukman was very affable, honest and extremely helpful with regard to difficulties raised with him. Indeed, way beyond the call of duty. This was a good example of public/politician dialogue, networking and an important aspect of public participation.
Mr Beukman’s presentation was closely linked with the realities that communities were facing and the way in which he chose to respond to guests was an indication of the direction in which policing is intending to move by being more in touch with the people. He raised several tasks that the committee has undertaken to achieve in 2015 that will have a large impact on the way in which the police service will function going forward. He noted that the role of the police is a topical issue this year and therefore he values the engagement that he can have with a variety of organizations.
The discussions between Mr Beukman and guests allowed for interaction in dealing with issues that are often private and of a personal matter where guests gave first-hand account of experiences. Mr Beukman stated that he understood the value of staying close to the issues at the ground level in order to understand what happens in society. While the summit in firearms is coming up, so is the white paper on the police, the Firearms Amendment Bill in April and the white paper on safety and security as well as the SAPS Amendment Act. All these policy documents will have a massive impact on policing in the next twenty years, which means that taking note of what is happening in communities is of the utmost importance going forward.
L-R: Francois Beukman (ANC MP), Fr Peter-John Pearson (CPLO)