Makhaza residents still waiting for own police station

sjc protest makhaza
Protestors building a wall to represent the urgent need for a police station in Makhaza. Photo by Sinethemba Mbewana

Insecurity in Khayelitsha as police dawdle in their duties and leave the Neighbourhood Watch without support.

Residents of Makhaza believe that a police station in the township would help to fight crime in the area. They marked the fifth anniversary of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry with a protest action, led by the Social Justice Coalition on a piece of land where the police station is supposed to be built.

During commission, it emerged that the South African Police Services was planning to build a new police station in Makhaza. Concerns were raised in the commission that the allocation of human resources at the proposed police station would worsen the “chronic staff shortage” at nearby Harare police station.

The commission’s 2014 report consists of 20 recommendations to address the inefficiencies that it found in the operation of police units in Khayelitsha, as well as the breakdown in relations between the Khayelitsha community and SAPS.

Even though the South African Police Services raised the proposal of a new police station in Khayelitsha five years ago, it has not been built.

In his budget vote in 2018, Police Minister, Bheki Cele, said that the building of the police station would start this year. Photo by Sinethemba Mbewana

The most recent statistics available are for 2017-18, from Crime Stats SA: there were 192 murder cases opened at Khayelitsha police station and 142 at Harare in 2017-18, and 192 and 186 rape cases respectively.

Mandisa Dyantyi who is the Deputy General Secretory at the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) said the reason they decided to have the protest on that particular ground where the station is meant to have been built was to remind SAPS that they are still waiting. In the five years since the commission, the SJC has been campaigning and calling for the implementation of its recommendations, particularly the seventh, which is on the allocation of police resources and the racist system SAPS uses to allocate these resources.

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“The wealthier and more often the whiter the community is, the better resourced the police station will be and the blacker and poorer the community is, the less resourced the station will be. And that resembles how things were done under apartheid and it’s not acceptable,” said Dyantyi.

Ward 96 councillor, Danile Khatshwa, said the police station was supposed to be built a long time ago and he is worried about the rising level of crime in the area.

“Crime is very bad this side: my office was broken into this morning and the police should be busy taking finger prints but they are not”, said Khatshwa. He added that Harare police station is under-resourced and far for Makhaza residents to go to.

Elliot Faku, a resident from 44 section in Makhaza, said the absence of a police station in Makhaza is badly affecting them as they have to spend money to go to Harare to certify documents. He also claimed that the police take a long time to come when they report a crime happening in the area. Faku has been living in Makhaza for almost 23 years.

According to some members of the Neigbourhood Watch, they find it hard to perform their duties because there is no nearby police station and when they come across a crime in progress, and call the police, they don’t arrive on time.

One of them, Ntombi Klaas, said it is not easy because when they catch someone during a night patrol, the police don’t come and arrest the person and they end up having to let him or her go.

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“Last Saturday we got a call from a woman who was being beaten by her husband and when we got there, things were very bad and we had to call the police but they never arrived, so we couldn’t do anything,” said Klaas.

People from other areas also came out to support the residents of Makhaza; from Langa, Marikana, Kraaifontein and Philippi.

Despite numerous attempts to contact the media department of the police, they did not respond to queries by the time of publication.

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