Over the past three years, more than 100 000 calls from people in East London seeking assistance from the police in a time of crisis never got answered. Even more damning is that the call centre has been without a reliable uninterrupted power supply since 2019!
Individuals who are facing terror and danger from criminals in a time of crisis cannot be thrown to the wolves in this fashion.
The failure to answer calls is potentially life-threatening to people in danger from the criminal onslaught.
The 10111 number is for any emergency that requires a police response. It is no wonder people are losing faith in the ability of the police to help them in their time of need. Their calls are not even being answered!
In response to a parliamentary question, Community Safety MEC, Xolile Nqatha, revealed that, while the East London 10111 centre is in fact overstaffed, 107 938 emergency calls had been dropped over the past three financial years.
2020/21 – 47517 dropped calls
2021/22 – 44600 dropped calls
2022/23 – 15821 dropped calls
MEC Nqatha said the dropped calls were due to the UPS failing, resulting in problematic telephone errors, as well as loadshedding, despite supposedly having three backup generators all in working order. He said the centre had also been closed on several occasions for Covid-19 fumigations.
When asked how the Department dealt with complaints, MEC Nqatha said there had been no official written complaints about calls not answered.
The MEC also revealed that while the flying squad linked to the East London 10111 centre was overstaffed, the K9 unit was severely understaffed, and lacked vehicles.
The MEC also revealed that the centre has no wifi, and that the migration to the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system, which began in 2009, would only become operational in the 2026/27 financial year.
I will be raising the state of both the East London and Nelson Mandela Bay 10111 centres in the Legislature later this month.
We cannot allow the abandonment of people in their times of crisis to become acceptable. Heads should roll for allowing a crisis centre to be without vital equipment for more than three years!