A Tafelsig resident says the building of a police station, across from his home will be a “blessing in disguise”.
Police Minister Bheki Cele announced during his budget vote speech on Tuesday May 15 that the construction of Tafelsig police station will start this year and be completed in 2021.
Christopher Fourie, who has been living across from the vacant plot of land on the corner of Andes and Oranjekloof streets, for 24 years, said his home and his car had been broken into 14 times in the past eight years.
“They lie in the bushes and they watch our properties,” he said. “You can hardly turn your back and your house or car is burgled. We’ve been crying so long for a police station,” he said.
In the past three months the bottom of the stable door at the back of his house had been cut out of the door frame.
“We’ve built our surrounding walls higher, and put on halved and broken glass bottles to deter criminals but they have filed them down and smoother to climb over,” he said.
Mr Fourie said he was hopeful that with the police station close by, they would have faster and more efficient service.
Abieda Ariefdien, 74, who lives a few doors away from the Fouries, said: “Ons sal baie bly wees. You have to watch your place so closely. You just find your door open or broken into.
“Die tik-koppe is so erg, hulle steel tot die ligte dan kan ons nie sien nie,” she said.
Ms Ariefdien said they stole her landline cables, so she could not call Mitchell’s Plain police station, their nearest police station, which is in First Avenue, Eastridge.
Sheval Arendse, councillor for Ward 82 and chairman of Wolfgat Sub-council, said residents were anxious for police service delivery to be brought closer to them.
He said the land had been signed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the past five years.
“Residents are anxious to submit their complaints for years and bring some law and order to the area. This has become a dumping site, street lamp posts and high mast lighting poles have been cut, cables stripped and bulbs stolen to help feed their (addicts) drug habit,” he said.
Mr Arendse said taking a taxi to the station in Eastridge had become dangerous but said the location of the planned police station will be accessible for residents from different parts of Tafelsig.
“Here the station will be right on our doorstep, which means service delivery should be quicker and response times will be drastically reduced,” he said
Michael Jacobs, deputy chairman of Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA) and former chairperson of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum (CPF), who had been privy to draft proposals for Tafelsig police station about a decade ago, said it was long overdue. “It is a step in the right direction,” he said.
Mr Jacobs said the station would further cement relationships between the community and police
“A CPF would have to be established to ensure that there is proper oversight of police services and to ensure enhanced service delivery,” he said.
Mr Cele was also in Mitchell’s Plain last week to launch Operation Thunder at the Mitchell’s Plain Indoor Sport and Recreation Centre in Portland on Tuesday May 15, ahead of his budget speech in Parliament.
Operation Thunder is a stabilisation operation which will involve the deployment of members of specialised units from other provinces, to deal with crime in the Western Cape.
In his budget speech Mr Cele also announced that his ministry would be capacitating, revitalising and enhancing the capabilities of SAPS’ Tactical Response Teams (TRT) as well the tracking teams through resources and skills. He said they will be training 154 TRT members of which 120 will be deployed around Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha and Nyanga while the remaining 34 will be deployed in Engcobo in the Eastern Cape.
Speaking at the launch, Lucinda Evans, chairperson of the Mitchell’s Plain cluster community police forum board, said the time for speeches and boardroom talks was over. “We need to take action.
“I am not here to put a bandage on a finger that is wounded, but we are not safe walking in these streets. Women and children are not safe anymore, we fear for our lives. Blood is flowing in our streets. These criminals are not our friends, children are dying,” said Ms Evans.
The board is an umbrella body, consisting of community police forum (CPF) chairpersons from eight police stations, including Mitchell’s Plain, Lentegeur, Strandfontein, Grassy Park, Steenberg, Philippi, Lansdowne and Athlone police stations.
Mr Jacobs welcomed the Operation Thunder initiative and the deployment of the TRT officers. “The initiative is welcomed and should be sustainable and I hope it will be supplemented by prosecutorial intelligence driven operations in order to secure that gang high flyers and gang infrastructure is disabled. Because if you disable the structure, haal jy die leadership uit, this will allow the community to start breathing again,” he said.
Mr Jacobs said other government departments, including social development, education, sports and recreation, must be involved in developing creative programmes to keep children off the street and give them an alternative to the gang lifestyle.
He applauded the minister for dedicating his 2018/2019 budget speech to all women and children who have been victims of gender-based violence.
Mr Cele said while all crimes were a priority, this year, they would prioritise and intensify the fight against crimes against women and children and vulnerable group such as the elderly, people with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
He said during the 2017/2018 financial year, 692 life sentences were meted out, 30 521 number of years were handed down in sentencing and 3 234 of dockets were registered in cases relating to violent crimes committed against women and children.
He also made a call to the Criminal Justice System to deal decisively with the perpetrators of gender-based crimes, irrespective of their social, political or economic status.
There are currently 183 SAPS Family violence, Child protection and Sexual offences (FCS) units countrywide which deals with gender-based violent crimes including sexual offences, and there are 1 047 dedicated facilities at police stations to accommodate and assist victims of such crimes.