Call to redirect funds for police
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.