Dire need for resources and infrastructure upgrades at police stations across the Cape

Groundwork has started after numerous delays at the Makhaza police station.

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With less than 20 000 police officers and 2587 detectives in the Western Cape, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure said their strategic budget would mainly focus on areas which did not have policing facilities than focusing on upgrading and repairs.

Just yesterday, Police Minister, Bheki Cele released the second quarter crime statistics for the period of 2023/2024 financial year of July to September 2023.

The report revealed there was a 10.9 % increase in murders and a 4.2 % increase in contact crime and that 12 police stations in the Western Cape were amongst the top for murders.

Activists and community policing forums said despite new police stations being built in the next few years, older stations were left with outdated infrastructure and resources.

An example of this, is Sea Point Police Station which has to rely on a four decades old radio system and Muizenberg Police Station.

In June 2023, Heide Goodman of the Community Policing Forum had addressed the provincial policing management at Muizenberg about the state of the holding cells which flooded during winter, non-working switchboards and water logged toilets.

Thami Mchunu, of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure said Belhar, Kleinvlei, Makhaza and Elands Bay have been earmarked for construction.

Mchunu said Muizenberg Police Station’s repairs and upgrading was placed on hold due to the high cost implications of the project.

“The SAPS is considering investing into new police stations in areas which do not have police facilities at all, as opposed to investing large sums of capital in areas which have existing facilities,” he explained.

Goodman told Weekend Argus they would continue to bid for a revamp because the current infrastructure affected policing and working conditions.

“We will continue to fight for a substantial upgrade to the property as the buildings are critically dysfunctional,” she said.

“The current situation at the station makes for an unsafe and unpleasant experience for SAPS members, the general public and for those being held in the dungeon like holding cells.”

Mchunu added Belhar and Kleinvlei and Elands Bay police station’s were on their books for the infrastructure projects.

“The Belhar project was registered for an accessibility project in 2015 but the scope of work has increased, resulting in the whole police station having to be renovated. The procurement instruction has yet to be received.

“Kleinvlei Town Planning Services is currently conducting a study for a new site for the re-establishment of a police station.

“The project has been registered with the DPWI.

“Khayelitsha, Mossel Bay, Villiersdorp, has no project in the pipeline for planned maintenance for the police stations.

“Elands Bay, the planning and design process will commence during the 2024/2025 financial year.

“No timeline has been set yet for the construction.

“Makhaza, the first phase of the project is currently under construction. The expected completion date is December 2023. The process of appointing consultants for the brick and mortar of the building is currently under way.

Western Cape Police Oversight and Community Safety Minister, Reagan Allen said he had visited 66 police stations since his term in office and had observed the dire need for resourcing and infrastructure upgrades first hand.

“It should be noted that the state of some of the SAPS stations in the Western Cape, leave a lot to be desired and there is no urgency from the National Government to attend the stations,” he stated.

Allen said much to what DPWI had communicated, he could confirm the following for construction of police stations: “Eight stations are earmarked for construction. They are: Makhaza in Khayelitsha, which is currently under construction; Tafelsig in 2024/25; Samora Machel and Wellington in 2025/26 and Gugulethu in 2026/27 and Belhar, Struisbaai and Lingelethu West in 2027/28

“At most of these stations, the police to population ratio is horrific, with Belhar’s one officer for every 1 016 residents, being a prime example,” he added.

The location of where the new police station for Makhaza is being built in Khayelitsha. File picture: Brendan Magaar/Independent Newspapers

Funeka Soldaat of the Khayelitsha Community Policing Cluster said they had been waiting for two decades and were eager for the day to arrive.

Kalib Missoe, Chairperson of the Youth Crime Prevention desk at Belhar Police Station and a Safety and Security rep for the city said the need was dire due to the high crime in the area.

“Construction has yet to begin in Belhar and we are aware of the land earmarked as it has been visited by officials,”

“Belhar only has a satellite police station which cannot support our whole community as there are only three police vans and one police car.

“If there are domestic violence cases, police take longer to respond to clients, this will decrease crime and bring more manpower and resources.”

Gillion Bosman, MPP, DA, Western Cape Spokesperson on Community Safety said the lack of resources, repairs and upgrading of police stations attributed to the crime control and staffing and capacity.

“The 2022/2023 Policing Needs and Priorities (PNP) Report indicates that many police stations in the Western Cape do not even have functional holding cells – something which obviously impacts the ability of our police to engage in investigative or enforcement activities,” said Bosman.

“The failure to upgrade police precincts is not an isolated one. For years, the national government in Pretoria has failed to allocate enough officers, vehicles, and other resources to the Western Cape.

“There are now less than 20 000 police officers and 2 587 detectives left in the Western Cape, with the consequence that only 37.78% of serious crimes were solved in the 2022/2023 PNP’s reporting period.”

Bernard Pieters manager of Community Activation Cape Forum said they had already written to SITA, State Information Technology Agency about the challenges experienced by police officers who do not have the necessary training, resources or infrastructure to do their work

“We believe that the role of civil society is, among other things, to keep state departments accountable with regard to their responsibility of serving the public.”

Police spokesperson, Colonel Traut said the lack of resources at Sea Point Police Station could not be discussed publicly.

Brigadier Athlenda Mathe and Captain FC Van Wyk said they could not respond as it was the duty of DPWI.

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