District Commissioner’s Office cruises as flying squad falters

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
Shadow MEC for Community Safety

While the Nelson Mandela Bay Flying Squad had no vehicles available for four days in February, the District Commissioner’s Office, based at the Mount Road Police Station, has been driving in a new high-performance BMW highway patrol vehicle.

See IQP response, sub-question 15

The issue of vehicle shortages is an ongoing problem, and our dedicated, hard-working flying squad members do not deserve the scraps.

At a time when violent crime is increasing, and Nelson Mandela Bay has become the hijacking capital of the Eastern Cape, the SAPS brass sees nothing wrong with taking limited resources from the front lines for use as a general passenger vehicle.

Download High-Performance Vehicle

The Democratic Alliance demands that the high-performance vehicle currently used by the District Commissioner’s Office be immediately reallocated for frontline services.

In response to a parliamentary question from the DA Community Safety MEC, Xolile Nqatha, revealed that of the seven vehicles allocated to the flying squad unit, one was being boarded, while another was non-operational. Of the five working units, only three are high-performance vehicles. Two of these vehicles have travelled more than 150 000km, one more than 200 000km, and one vehicle has travelled in excess of 300 000km.

In February, all five operational vehicles were pulled off the road at the same time for reasons such as service, brakes, and mechanical repairs. At the same time, the high-performance vehicle of the District Commissioner was most likely in the Mount Road parking lot.

The latest quarterly crime statistics, for October to December 2022, show that carjacking has increased by 46.6% to 548 cases, with Kwazakhele, New Brighton, Motherwell and KwaDwesi as the provincial hotspots. Likewise, Truck hijacking is up 38.5%, to 54 cases, with Mount Road, Motherwell, Algoa Park and Swartkops all hotspots.

High-performance vehicles, such as the one in question, are specifically designed and equipped for rapid response in high-pressure, crime-intensive situations, such as hijackings. The utilisation of this vehicle for the District Commissioner’s Office instead of its intended purpose is not only a questionable allocation but also a clear misuse of a valuable public resource.

It is also deeply concerning that MEC Nqatha has revealed that the problem is not just contained in Nelson Mandela Bay but is common practice with such vehicles allocated to all district commissioner offices in the province. These high-performance vehicles are being set aside to, among others, ferry top brass from head office when visiting the province, rather than fight crime.

I will be raising this issue in the Legislature, during the debates on the Community Safety budget.

It is unacceptable that first responders, who place their lives on the line on a daily basis to protect us, are not given the resources they need.