Residents across the province are being denied rapid police response when they need it most, because of a crippling vehicle shortage affecting Eastern Cape flying squad units. This must be particularly terrifying when your home is being invaded by robbers or rapists.
In response to a Parliamentary Question from the Democratic Alliance, Community Safety MEC, Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, reveals that of the 48 vehicles allocated to the six flying squad units across the province, only 14 are operational.
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It is no wonder the province is losing the battle against serious crimes, if the first responders are unable to respond to the scene, because they do not have vehicles.
Crime statistics released last week Friday showed murder and rape continue to skyrocket in the province, while organised crime such as car hijackings, cash in transit heists and business robberies are also increasing.
Tikana-Gxothiwe revealed that only three of the ten vehicles meant for Gqeberha are operational, and only three of the eleven meant for East London. Komani only has two of four vehicles operational, while Qonce has three of seven and Mthatha three of nine vehicles operational.
The most disturbing is that of the seven vehicles the Mdantsane Flying squad should have. Currently, it has no operational vehicles at all.
Five vehicles are off the road, waiting for a service, and a further 13 are awaiting mechanical repairs. Six vehicles are off the road, simply because they are waiting for new tyres!
The MEC also revealed that only seven of the 48 vehicles have less than 150 000km on the clock, with 22 vehicles having travelled over 200 000 km.
The flying squad is meant to provide a quick response to priority, serious and violent crimes in progress, in an attempt to apprehend suspects, as well as providing visible policing by means of vehicle patrols along the country’s major routes.
They can not do so if they do not have vehicles.
It is clear that the current arrangements in place to keep these vehicles on the road are failing and need to be re-evaluated. Additional budget also needs to be made available to replace the ageing fleet of vehicles.
I will be raising this matter at the next sitting of the provincial Legislature in December and have requested the DA Shadow Minister of Police, Andrew Whitfield, MP, to raise this issue in parliament.
We cannot expect our police to fight crime, if they do not have the resources to do so. A DA government will prioritise a fully resourced police service, so our communities can live in the safety they deserve.