Call to re­di­rect funds for police

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TSHEGO LEPULE

WITH the R100 mil­lion up­grade to Muizen­berg Police Sta­tion of­fi­cially on hold, ac­tivists are lob­by­ing for the funds to be redi­rected to the con­struc­tion of new police stations in crime-rid­den com­mu­ni­ties.

This fol­lows a brief­ing by the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and pro­vin­cial SAPS to the Western Cape Leg­is­la­ture’s stand­ing com­mit­tee on com­mu­nity safety on cap­i­tal pri­or­ity lists for police stations in the prov­ince.

SAPS came un­der fire ear­lier this year over the planned re­fur­bish­ment of Muizen­berg Police Sta­tion.

Ques­tions were raised about the cri­te­ria the SAPS used in or­der to de­ter­mine the con­struc­tion of new stations.

Colonel Tracey En­gelke told the com­mit­tee that the pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner puts in a re­quest for a study to be con­ducted to de­ter­mine whether an area needs ei­ther a satellite or fully-fledged police sta­tion based on de­mo­graph­ics, spa­tial de­vel­op­ment and crime trends.

En­gelke said three stations in Mak­haza, Tafel­sig and Wel­tevre­den were in the plan­ning and de­sign stages, with con­struc­tion on the first two set to get un­der way in 2019.

She said the con­struc­tion of Wel­tevre­den Police Sta­tion – which would be sit­u­ated in Samora Machel – was in limbo due to con­straints around find­ing a site.

“The CPF (Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Fo­rum) was adamant that they would like (a spe­cific plot) to be the site where the new police sta­tion should be built and un­for­tu­nately this site has been ear­marked for the con­struc­tion of a clinic.

“Re­cently both the min­istry and the Pres­i­dency have come on board and there is go­ing to be high-level con­sul­ta­tion be­tween SAPS and health to try to see how we can co-use this site to the ad­van­tage of the com­mu­nity.”

Re­spond­ing to ques­tions about Muizen­berg, En­gelke said the re­fur­bish­ment had been put on the pri­or­ity list seven years ago.“The rea­son it took too long to get to ex­e­cu­tion is be­cause it is a her­itage build­ing,” she said.

SAPS re­ceived crit­i­cism for the planned up­grade, which was called “un­nec­es­sary” in the face of the other polic­ing needs in the prov­ince.

En­gelke said police stations like Klein­vlei, Bel­har, Gugulethu, Wood­stock, Browns Farm Kwanon­qaba, Kwanokathula, Lwan­dle, Lin­gelethu West and a new pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner’s of­fice had been placed on the SAPS cap­i­tal works pri­or­ity list for con­struc­tion.

Once ap­proved, they would be for­warded to the Na­tional Trea­sury for fund­ing.

An­swer­ing ques­tions as to why Nyanga SAPS was not on the list, SAPS deputy pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner for as­set management Ma­jor Gen­eral Renee Fick said plans for two es­tab­lish­ments in the precinct would al­le­vi­ate the pres­sure at the sta­tion.

“We will not be up­grad­ing Nyanga at this stage. A work study has in­di­cated that 60% of the crimes re­ported in Nyanga ac­tu­ally orig­i­nate in Browns Farm, so when the Browns Farm (police sta­tion) is up and run­ning and the con­struc­tion of Wel­tevre­den, Nyanga SAPS would ac­tu­ally be down­graded.

“The mem­bers will be moved to Browns Farm and Wel­tevre­den and the mem­bers left will be ac­com­mo­dated,” she ex­plained.

The So­cial Jus­tice Coali­tion’s Chu­mile Sali said pri­or­ity needs to be given to com­mu­ni­ties in dire need of police fa­cil­i­ties.

“The is­sue here is peo­ple need police stations nearby in or­der to make it eas­ier for them to re­port crime. From what I un­der­stand the is­sue around Wel­tevre­den Police Sta­tion is that the piece of land iden­ti­fied was also ear­marked for the build­ing of a clinic.

“The com­mu­nity is not op­posed to the build­ing of a new clinic but their im­me­di­ate con­cern is that if a clinic is built on that piece of land, it will take even longer for an­other plot to be iden­ti­fied for a police sta­tion.

“The peo­ple in Samora Machel have to go to Nyanga to re­port crime, which is far and they have to hire cars or taxis to seek help from police.”

He added that the same ap­plied to com­mu­ni­ties like Vry­grond and Capri­corn, where peo­ple have to travel to Muizen­berg in or­der to re­port crime.

“Those com­mu­ni­ties des­per­ately need a sta­tion in their com­mu­nity and the money that was go­ing to be used for Muizen­berg needs to go to­wards a police sta­tion there,” he said.

An artist’s im­pres­sion of the new Muizen­berg police sta­tion, which has been put on hold.

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