The annual Taking Legislature to the People is being held in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (NMBM) from 20-23 October, at the Missionvale Campus of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Below is the speech delivered by Bobby Stevenson, Shadow MEC for Safety, speaking on the report for Safety in NMBM.
Everyone wants to live in a community where our families can feel safe and secure. But in fact, 80, 2% of all people living in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro feel unsafe when it is dark. This is the highest of all Metros as indicated on a Stats SA report that was published in April of this year. Living in a state of anxiety, high stress and fear is destructive to ones wellbeing. This is not freedom.
The high rate of crime in our Metro negatively impacts on the environment for investment and economic growth. Unless we can stamp out crime, jobs will continue to decline. Our Metro has the highest unemployment rate of all Metro’s in our country. Crime kills opportunity and poverty fuels crime.
One of the reasons for the high crime rate and the climate of fear in Nelson Mandela Bay, relates to the lack of police visibility.
High visibility police patrols are said to cut the crime rate up to 40%. The lack of vehicles on the roads is not only due to a shortage of vehicles, but also the time it takes for their repairs and the SAPS procurement processes. It also impacts on response times.
When our committee visited the Kamesh police station we were told it can take up to one week to put a new battery on a police vehicle, and yes it can take three days to have a puncture repaired by following the procurement processes.
Another problem that we picked up at the Humewood garage was the shortage of personnel. There was only one spray painter available, so you could wait up to three weeks for a vehicle to be sprayed.
The shortage of the vehicles and the long time it takes for them to be repaired impacts on police response times to emergency calls. Police emergency calls are broken down into three sections, namely: Alpha; Bravo and Charlie. The average response time for Alpha calls, which are the most serious calls at the Mount Road cluster was 27 Minutes and 43 Seconds, and Motherwell was 26 Minutes and .6 Seconds.
However the individual police stations tell a different story, the average response time at Bethelsdorp police station was 43 Minutes and .37 Seconds; New Brighton 40 Minutes and .55 Seconds, KwaDwesi 34 Minutes and 19 Seconds, and Gelvandale 33 Minutes and 2 Seconds. These response times are unacceptable.
What we need is a police service that can offer rapid response to emergency calls. This cannot happen when only 8 of 24 lines are manned at 10111. When you are feeling at your most vulnerable, when burglars are lurking around your house or breaking into your premises, you do not want to have to wait 43 Minutes for a vehicle to arrive.
The solution to fix some of these problems is:
- ensuring that none of our police stations have a shortage of vehicles;
- the vehicles that they have need to be the right vehicles for the terrain;
- procurement processes need to be revamped to ensure that there can be a speedier turnaround of vehicles; and
- our police garages need to be properly resourced with personnel.
When we visited the Newton Park police auction site we were informed that there was a lack of security and that blue lights were being stolen. Nothing can be more terrifying than being stopped by people you think are the SAPS and it turns out to be criminals robbing you. This happened to Gavin Delport in Cape Road on Saturday 10th of October, where he was bundled into a so called blue light “police car” and dumped in New Brighton.
One of the reasons why the response time at Bethelsdorp policing area is the longest in the province is because they are receiving the most calls. There has been a massive expansion of population in that area in the last number of years. There needs to be a second police station established in the Bethelsdorp policing area and the process to get it operational needs to be speeded up. We need action on this.
When one is talking about crime in Nelson Mandela Bay, it will never be beaten unless one has a holistic strategy. Such a holistic strategy needs to involve all role players, such as Correctional Services; the SAPS, The National Prosecuting Authority, Social Development; the Department of Education; the Department of Arts & Culture, Department of Safety and the Municipality.
We need to bring back the specialised units, particularly the South African Narcotics Bureau (SANAB). One is never going to eradicate the scourge of drug dealing in this Metro, unless one has a specialised unit like SANAB to deal with it. This is the only way that the ringleaders can be caught and not small fry on the ground. Our children’s lives are being destroyed by drugs!
The DA wants to see that a Metro Police Service is established.
In the City of Cape Town, where the Democratic Alliance governs, there is a Metro Police Service, and attached to that Metro Police Service, there is an Anti-Gang Unit and Anti-Drugs Unit and what is called the Copper Heads, to deal with metal theft. They have very good success in combating gangsterism and drug dealing in the City of Cape Town.
We want the same for our Metro. The message that we are getting from people is that Genoeg is Genoeg or Kwanele! Kwanele!
We also deserve to know the truth about crime and what is happening in our neighbourhoods.
We believe that crimes stats should be readily available. If rapists, serial killers, and hijackers are operating in our neighbourhoods, we must know. The secrecy must stop, crime stats cannot be released only once a year.
We would also ensure that the cell phone signal in St Alban’s prison is jammed so gangsters cannot organise hits and intimidate witnesses. If you can jam the signal in Parliament, you can jam the signal at St Alban’s.
The Democratic Alliance believes in safe communities, these are communities where children can play freely in the street, where people can sleep comfortably without the activation of alarm systems and electric fences, where people can walk from their homes to a taxi rank without the fear of having their phones and bags snatched and where women can walk down the street at any time without feeling physically or sexually vulnerable. Safe communities are strong communities.
Under a DA government our communities would be safer, particularly here in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. We would usher in a Metro Police Service, ensure high visibility policing and rapid response to emergency calls. We would also bring back specialised units to eradicate gangsterism and drugs from our streets. Real freedom is the right to live in safety and security. That freedom is under threat today, and we must stand together to fight for it, and win the war against crime.
The DA does not offer the residents of Nelson Mandela a better yesterday but rather a brighter tomorrow.
Just as I was fired up to fight apartheid — and it was not just in the council chambers of the this city but also in the trenches — so I am just as fired up to bring real change to this metro.
I can well remember 30 years ago attending the funeral of the Cradock four when the first state of emergency was declared in 1985 with my colleague Molly Blackburn PFP public rep for Walmer. Molly Blackburn gave her life to the struggle for freedom.
The residents of Nelson Mandela Bay want change from corruption, factionalism and infighting.
They want the dream of the early 1990’s restored when this city became the first in South Africa to have a non-racial transitional council.
When there was a sense of purpose and commitment to building a new city together. People want that spirit of change to grip this metro again.
That Change is coming. Change that will bring hope, change that will create unity, change that will build a city we all dream of and put the DA in power.