Speech notes by DA MPL, Marshall von Buchenroder – ECPL portfolio committee on Safety & Liaison’s oversight visit to Nelson Mandela & Sarah Baartman police stations

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, members of the Executive, Honourable members.

Indeed I was privileged to be part of the oversight visit that was conducted in both Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and Sarah Baartman district.

Honourable speaker, please allow me to highlight some of the findings during this oversight visit.

The inadequate office space at both the Humansdorp as well as Kamesh police stations; this has a direct bearing on members to render an effective and efficient service to their communities in the area. The Walmer police station is in a poor condition, with blocked gutters, falling roof tiles, broken doors, insufficient parking space and the list can go on and on.

Honourable Speaker, the captain at the Walmer police station needs to be commended for going the extra mile in order to ensure that all the vehicles tyre repairs are done by him on site. This is someone who is supposed to be combating crime. This is a direct result of the red-tape in the system to procure an order to repair a simple thing.

Honourable Speaker, there are vehicles at the garage that haven’t been used for up to three months in order to repair a tyre, replace a battery, or a starter motor. This is hampering service delivery. The contract with Standard Bank needs to be reviewed on an urgent basis, so that the flow of repairs can be expedited. This was expressed by all station commanders during our oversight visit.

The main garage in Port Elizabeth is under-resourced when it comes to manpower. Honourable Speaker, to have only one panel beater and two assistants for that department is a shame. The number of mechanical staff is also inadequate because the ratio is one mechanic to 15 vehicles per day.

We call on the Eastern Cape’s SAPS management to urgently look into this matter and to do the necessary appointments in order to have a speedy repair of vehicles. In doing the above, residents will stop hearing the excuse of there are no vehicles at the police stations available in order to serve them.

Honourable Speaker one needs to give credit where it is due. It was indeed a pleasure to visit the Motherwell police station under the leadership of Brigadier Keith Meyer. It is a well-run station and if you look at the success that this station has achieved under their circumstances, one needs to commend them for a sterling job done.

During our visit, the newspaper reported that a serial murder suspect that was on the run for a very long time was apprehended and arrested, by Motherwell SAPS. This is what I call a job well done.

There are also challenges at the station, with regards to non-cooperation of the local traffic department with regards to the high number of Jikelezas that are in operation in the area without the necessary documentation or road worthy certificates. This activity takes time for policemen and it is not a core mandate of the police; allow me to quote the direct words of the commander, “Coffin on wheels”. Honourable speaker, intervention must take place sooner than later in order to prevent any loss of life.

The Gelvandale police station is known as a gang area. This station is under-resourced with manpower as well as vehicles; this is what I call robbing Peter to pay Paul. The station has a vehicle fleet of 26 vehicles, nine of these vehicles are released to the cluster gang task team, five are bordered, six of the vehicles have no money allocated for maintenance and repairs, only a mere three are classified as being in good condition. Honourable Speaker this is a recipe for disaster. One needs to ask the question, is the SAPS serious about combating crime in this area?

Allow me to share some stats for the station from January 2015 to date; 139 attempted murder cases were opened, 36 murder cases for the same period, these are all gang related and then we talk of a gang task team that is in operation.

Honourable Speaker, one more death in the area is one too many, when will it stop for a mother, father, child, grandparent and family member to stand weekend in and weekend out in front of an open grave to mourn the loss of a loved one.

The Democratic Alliance calls for the re-establishment of a gang-unit that is fully resourced, funded and operating on a core mandate in order to make our streets a safe place. The Democratic Alliance supports the report.

I thank you.