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GroundUp: Nyanga policing – will promises be kept this time?

GroundUp: Nyanga policing – will promises be kept this time?

In October 2012, then Western Cape police commissioner, Lieutenant General Arno Lamoer, promised that a new satellite police station would be opened in Nyanga. Three years later, the promise has not yet been kept. Nor is it clear what steps have been taken to address a multitude of problems raised by a parliamentary committee a year ago. By GROUNDUP staff and Tariro Washinyira.

New promises were made yesterday, when Deputy Minister of Police Makhotso Sotyu gave a press conference at the Nyanga Police Station. She said she was in town to visit a boy in Red Cross Hospital who was wounded in a deadly attack on a shebeen in KTC (which falls under Nyanga Police Station’s jurisdiction) on Saturday that left nine injured and three dead.

Nyanga has the highest murder rate in the province:

























Murders in Nyanga 2004 to 2015 (for year ending in March). Source: Crime Stats

Sotyu’s briefing was difficult to follow and numbers were cited without context. She said that 100 former police officers who are returning to the force would be deployed to the Western Cape. When exactly, and how this would affect the overall police numbers in the province, was not explained.

When a reporter pointed out that for six years there had been talk about more resources for Nyanga, and asked what was happening, Sotyu responded: “You are correct. … I do not see myself addressing the communities again because I do know what is it the communities need. What is remaining is for us to give the communities what they need.”

She then said that a police station would be built in Samora Machel, an informal settlement. But Samora Machel, one of six sectors for which the Nyanga station is responsible, has had a satellite station for many years.

She also mentioned Brown’s Farm, another informal settlement served by the Nyanga station, as a site for a new satellite station. But this was the site on which Lamoer on 19 October 2012 promised a new mobile station would be opened soon, followed by a satellite station. At the time he was accompanying police officers on a walkabout through Brown’s Farm.

That satellite station has not been opened.

Lamoer was suspended in October 2015. He and three of his senior officers were accused of of fraud, corruption, money laundering and defeating the ends of justice.

In response to a GroundUp query about the promised station, Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut said two new police stations were planned for Nyanga.

One, at Weltevreden, was due for site clearance in 2015-16. The other, the satellite station at Brown’s Farm, was catered for in the “capital works programme”. He further said, “As an interim measure the identification of a suitable erf to place park homes or a suitable building to be leased as a satellite station for Brown’s Farm is being explored.”

In response to a query on the number of police officers in Nyanga, Traut said the area was policed by an “adequate” number of officers, a claim that also appears to be contradicted by Sotyu in yesterday’s press conference, and by an investigation by Parliament.

A report by a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee that investigated policing in Nyanga, published on 31 October 2014, found:

  • The station has an allocated staff component of 285 members, but 30 staff members have either been transferred, received promotions or resigned.”

  • There is high absenteeism.

  • There are insufficient detectives at the station, and 15 additional detectives are needed”.

  • Detectives carry a docket load of 9,000 with each detective investigating about 200 dockets. The detective carrying the least number of dockets [has] 45 (which is gang task team member) and the detective carrying the most dockets [has] 600.”

  • There are 10,643 cases being investigated with 4,396 cases that have been closed undetected.”

  • There are supposed to be 12 police vehicles (two per sector) but there are only two.

  • It is not clear whether these issues have been addressed in the past year. Last week, GroundUp sent questions to SAPS asking for an update on progress. We have made several telephone calls asking for our questions to be answered, but have received no response yet.

Dalli Weyers of the Social Justice Coalition said, “One of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry’s most revealing findings was around the inequitable and irrational allocation of police resources resulting in poor working class, violent and predominantly black African communities, like Nyanga and Khayelitsha, not getting a fair share of these resources.”

It would also appear that both Nyanga and Khayelitsha have heard empty promises from the police’s provincial top brass,” said Weyers.

In 2004 a proposed police station for Makhaza in Khayelitsha was placed as the second highest provincial priority for the police in the Western Cape. Eleven years later, the Department of Public Works has not yet broken ground on the proposed police station, resulting in the Harare Police Station, that serves Makhaza, being the most under-resourced police station per capita in the province,” Weyers said. DM


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