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Lieutenant colonel Linda Mangaliso, Makhaza police station commander, told Elitsha during a brief interview that the police station is short-staffed and without cops trained to deal with fingerprints and ballistics. And they are still waiting for Telkom to install telephones. “We still rely on Harare police station for support as our mother,” Mangaliso said.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele handed the newly built police station worth R23-million along with 26 police vans to Makhaza residents in Khayelitsha in May. An additional police station in Khayelitsha was one of the recommendations of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry that also called for more police officers and detectives in the township.

Funeka Soldaat, acting chairperson of the Khayelitsha community policing forum cluster, said the police station is supposed to provide all services. “Other police stations deal with a limited number of fingerprint cases, so absence of police to deal with fingerprints will negatively affect service delivery. We were told that residents would get all the services at the police station. That it now experiences staff shortages is not fair,” she said.

The police must drive residents to Harare police station to get services that are not accessible at Makhaza police station. Soldaat said: “The police station was built so that the residents don’t spend monies on taxis, so the police must transport the residents to other police stations if they can’t help them here. It’s the failure of the police station.”

A total of 10,000 cops that the SAPS has trained are not enough to serve all the communities that need security, she said. Soldaat urged the province to revise the rations of cops sent to communities and called for equitable distribution of police resources.

Cop shop with no stock

Busiswa Mlambisa, who survived an attempted rape, said the police could not even give her a case number after she opened a case. “I have been visiting the police station twice weekly to collect my case number ever since I opened the case, but I have not yet received it,” she said.

She gave the cops her sister’s cell number and asked them to send the case number to it. “On the day I reported the attempted rape, the police said they could not give me a case number because they had no computer. They said they would collect it at Harare police station. I don’t know what to do now,” she said.

Community leader, Myolisi Magibisela said Makhaza residents are disappointed that they have not landed menial jobs at the cop shop. “Residents expected the police station to provide job opportunities for cleaners and cooks when Bheki Cele opened it. Now they are angry because they don’t see any Makhaza residents work there,” he said.

Lazola Somazembe, chairperson of Khuseleka Neighbourhood Watch, said members submitted their ID numbers and names to the cops for screening recently. “The police have not yet screened us because they have no computers,” he said. Since the police station has no phone line, members hand cell numbers of the police to local committees. “The police always have phones in their pockets, so residents report crime to the committee and it calls the police,” he said.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele at the opening of the Makhaza police station in May this year.

During the opening in May, Cele appealed to the community to build relationships with the station commander and the officers. “The police station’s most important job is the safety of the community. But people who are disabled, women and children must get double protection,” said Cele.