Vehicle shortage hampering fight against criminals: Daily Dispatch

THE police flying squad in East London has no vehicles and the 10111 call centre is not operational, MEC for safety liaison Weziwe Tikana revealed in the Bhisho legislature yesterday.

Tikana was responding to parliamentary questions by the DA’s MPL Bobby Stevenson.

Tikana said the East London flying squad was supposed to have two vehicles but has none while Port Elizabeth has seven operational vehicles.

She attributed the shortage to her department’s supply chain office and capacity constraints from the police’s government garage.

“Due to capacity constraints in police garages, major mechanical and bodywork repairs are outsourced to private service providers,” Tikana said.

Tikana also revealed that the 10111 call centres in East London and Port Elizabeth were experiencing “challenges”.

Police spokesman Marinda Mills confirmed the status quo with regard to the flying squad, but said it would not affect policing.

“We provided the MEC with the responses. On the 26th of June 2014 the flying squad in East London had a challenge in terms of vehicles available for operational purposes.

“Management has intervened and the unit has been allocated a new vehicle and two vehicles returned from the garage, it thus has currently three vehicles operating.

“A large number of the unit’s vehicles were in the garage due to motor vehicle accidents and the provincial office then provide support in unforeseen situations such as this,” Mills said.

Stevenson said: “Our flying squads in our two metros frequently have vehicle shortages.”

He then challenged the MEC to give the house an assurance that the department would ensure that flying squad and 10111 call centres were brought up to the standards that residents deserved.

In September last year, the portfolio committee of safety and security tabled an in-depth report on the state of 10111 centres and flying squads in the province.

The report revealed that a voice login system in Queenstown, Mthatha and Uitenhage was not operational. In Queenstown the committee found only one radio out of four had been operational since 2011.

The Queenstown 10111 centre cannot communicate with Cofimvaba because the repeater is too weak.

Staff are expected to sit on broken chairs with no back support for hours at a time.

With regard to the East London 10111 centre, the report revealed that the radios were outdated and better suited for use in vehicles than in a call centre.

The report stated that if people phoned the 10111 centre in East London they were re-directed to Durban, Johannesburg or Cape Town because of problems with repeaters.

Stevenson said the new 10111 centres had been on the cards for some time in Mthatha, Port Elizabeth and East London.

“There are unacceptable delays in the opening of these centres. I understand the national minister has appointed a task team to investigate why the Port Elizabeth R220-million building is standing empty and why the R920-million Tetra System has been kept in storage since the World Cup,” he concluded.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPL Themba Wele also raised concerns over the non-availability of flying squad vehicles in East London.

“This only means criminals can do as they please in East London. This is a disgrace and needs to be looked at,” Wele said.