Thembela Ntongana, GroundUp
Cape Town – The R100m set aside to upgrade Muizenberg police station will be used to build police stations in Makhaza, Nyanga and Samora, deputy minister of Police Bongani Mkhongi promised at the weekend.
Addressing a meeting in Khayelitsha on Sunday, Mkhongi said the first he had heard of the proposed Muizenberg “palace police station” was when he read about it in the newspapers, GroundUp reported.
“The palace police station project is going to be halted; it is not going to happen. We are redirecting the resources to build a police station in Makhaza, to build a police station in Nyanga and Samora.”
The meeting with the deputy minister, provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula and Community Policing Forums members from across Khayelitsha and Nyanga community was organised by the Khayelitsha Development Forum. It followed a meeting on the same issue on Saturday held by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC).
The SJC and Equal Education, with the Nyanga Community Policing Forum, are contesting the allocation of police resources between communities.
The two organisations filed papers in 2016 against the Ministry of Police at the Equality Court in terms of the Promotion of Equality Act. The matter is to be heard in August.
Mkhongi said the organisations were not fighting the police.
“You must not think that you are fighting the police. We are not going to contest, we are going to agree with you,” he said.
“The police must not be hostile to the progressive demand of the people, because it is the police of the people, not the police of the system.”
“I was born in Gugulethu and the police station in Gugulethu has been in that state since I was born… Therefore, if there is going to be any money, that will be used for the people who have for decades reported at Gugulethu police station without resources,” said Mkhongi.
Jula said resources had already been diverted from other police stations to the province’s most problematic stations – Nyanga Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Harare, Gugulethu, Mfuleni and Delft.
“So the next thing is to make sure that we utilise these resources that are already available in the stations that I have mentioned such that they yield a better result,” said Jula.
SJC general secretary Phumeza Mlungwana said the talk about police resources had been going on for years. She asked how Muizenberg had jumped the queue as it only went into the priority list seven years ago while other stations like Makhaza had been there for 13 years.
“Can we not have another Imbizo, can we not have other promises, can we have you as the minister scrapping your whole theory of allocation because it is incorrect, and it is going to continue to discriminate against the black communities,” said Mlungwana.
Five star hotel
At the Saturday meeting at the Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha, residents of several areas faced with crime and lack of police resources, including Nyanga, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Vrygrond, Mitchell’s Plain and Marikana, as well as members of the Muizenberg Community Policing Forum, stood up to speak.
Muizenberg CPF chairperson Frank Bokhorst compared the planned Muizenberg police station upgrade to a five star hotel. He said he had held several meetings with organisations involved in the CPF and they were not in favour of the plan.
“They are all opposed to it and are in favour of the relocation of the police station to another site, in Vrygrond,” he said.
“There is land available on the M5, the City Council has made land available for a police station, and as far as I know the Department of Public Works has looked at the site,” said Bokhurst.
He said building a police station on that land would be cheaper than upgrading the current Muizenberg police station.
Vrygrond community leader Yoliswa Ngqame said Vrygrond residents wanted a police station accessible to those who needed it.
She told GroundUp that most residents did not report crimes because they had no means of getting to the police station.
“Not everyone has the money to travel to the police station because it is not walking distance. People have to catch public transport and most people are unemployed, so they end up not reporting.
“What we want is a police station that will be accessible to all communities especially those that really need it,” said Ngqame.
In a statement late on Sunday, the SJC’s Chumile Sali welcomed Mkhongi’s response to opposition to the R100m Muizenberg upgrade.
Sali said the SJC hoped the Ministry’s position was not “merely reactive” but had taken into consideration the needs of communities such as Vrygrond, Capricorn, Overcome Heights and Sea Winds that are currently served by the Muizenberg Police Station.
“These communities deserve greater access to police services.”