• This is the most damning report ever tabled in this House on the state of the SAPS in this Province.
• It spells out the dysfunctional nature of our flying squads and 10111 Centres in the Eastern Cape. It also highlights the extremely difficult working conditions that members of the SAPS are subjected to whether it be lack of toilets, broken furniture, outdated equipment, condemned buildings, lack of vehicles, shortages of radios it’s all there.
• It’s a damning indictment of the state of affairs of our emergency response centres in this province.
The 10111 Centres are the public’s first port of call in a crisis.
These centres together with the flying squad are our front line against the criminal element. The public expects them to be well resourced and fully functional so that they can respond as swiftly as possible to calls of distress. This report is an indictment on the failure of the management of the SAPS to deal with the situation at hand.
It’s also an indictment on the Department of Safety and Liason whose failure to effectively oversight the SAPS is exposed in this report.
As public representatives committed to vigorous oversight, it is our job to expose inadequacies when it comes to service delivery and put forward constructive solutions to deal with it. It is in the best interest of the community at large that this report has been tabled before the House.
I now wish to highlight certain issues that have been raised in this report.
The Mthatha Flying Squad only had seven out of 19 vehicles fully operational when we visited them. Three were in the process of being boarded and nine have been in the garage for repairs for five months. Similar problems are experienced at other station centres throughout the Province. We were informed that the reason for these long delays is problems with the financial authority that needs to be issued by supply chain management division, at the Provincial Head Office of the SAPS.
It cannot take five months to repair vehicles especially when they are needed for emergency services work. There needs to be an overhaul of the supply chain management division to ensure that authority for repairs of vehicles are speeded up.
The voice logging system in Queenstown like Mthatha and Uitenhage was not operational. In Queenstown we found that only one radio out of four has been operational since 2011. The Queenstown 10111 Centre cannot communicate with Cofimvaba because the repeater is too weak. There were similar problems communicating with Lady Gray because they operate on solar power. What I found totally inhumane was that staff are expected to sit on broken chairs with no back support for hours at a time.
How can this state of affairs exist?
With regard to the East London 10111 Centre the radios are outdated and are more suited for use in vehicles than from a Call Centre. There are also problems communicating with the Centre because of weak signal. If you phone 10111 in East London you may get redirected to Durban, Johannesburg or Cape Town because of problems with the repeaters. When it comes to the flying squad in Port Elizabeth, of 21 vehicles nine were working at the time, seven were in the garage and four were in the process of being boarded.
New 10111 Centres have been on the cards for some time in Mthatha, East London and Port Elizabeth. There are unacceptable delays in opening these Centres. In Mthatha the construction of the new 10111 Centre which was due for completion in 2014 has stalled because the appointed contractor abandoned the project because he under – quoted. There needs to be a full investigation into this tender process. When people are awarded tenders who cannot do the job properly, the community at large suffers. This delay could well cost lives.
With regard to East London, this new Centre should have opened at least two years ago. When we visited it, it was not even fully furnished. The MEC must tell us when this new Centre will be open and when it will be fully furnished.
Similarly in Port Elizabeth there is a need for the new Centre to be open. The urgency to open the new 10111 Centre in Port Elizabeth, is highlighted by the fact that on the 27th and 28th of July the 10111 Centre crashed due to burst water pipes.
The 10111 Centres and flying squads are highly specialised units in the SAPS. They require a Provincial Commander that is highly professional and responsive to the needs of these units. Also required is that the right people with the right skills manage these specialised units.
It is also of concern that reservists with over 20 years’ experience are no longer being utilised in East London and PE Flying Squads.
It is time that the SAPS in this Province ensured that management improves so that these centres can operate at maximum efficiency and maximum effectiveness and in this way improve safety and security in the province