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We hope it won’t just be a decoration, says resident as temporary Nyanga police station opened

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Minister silent on permanent station promised for 2023

Photo of crowd with police cars
Minister of Police Bheki Cele opened a temporary police station in Samora Machel in Nyanga on Tuesday. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
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Minister of police Bheki Cele opened the new temporary police station in Samora Machel in Nyanga on Tuesday, but was tight-lipped about on the permanent police station he had promised for 2023.

In front of an audience of hundreds of residents at the Sophumelela High School in Samora Machel on Tuesday, Minister of Police Bheki Cele handed over the key to the new police station to Lieutenant Colonel Elliot Lingana, who will be in charge of the station.

Cele said the complement of 80 officers at the temporary police station would increase to 116 by the end of this month. Samora Machel currently falls within the Nyanga police precinct, which has the highest number of murders in the country according to Crime Stats SA.

The Nyanga Community Policing Forum has for years been calling for a police station to be built in the area to take over some of the cases reported at the Nyanga police station.

Nyanga police station services six areas: Philippi Brown’s Farm, Old Crossroads, Nyanga East, Sweet Home Farm, Samora Machel and Heinz Park. There were 281 murders in these areas in the 2017 statistics year.

In his budget speech in May in Parliament, Cele said Samora Machel would get a permanent police station by 2023, following Tafelsig in 2021 and Makhaza by 2022.

Asked on Tuesday by GroundUp whether the permanent police station would be built as planned he said, “For now we have what everybody loves here, that one we will come back to when the time comes. For now let’s enjoy what we have.”

He said the Nyanga police station had always been overloaded.

“We believe that this will ease the load on the station. Maybe it will be a normal station and stop being the headquarters of murder in South Africa,” said Cele.

The chairperson of the Nyanga CPF, Martin Makhazi, said they were happy with the new police station but there was still a lot to be done.

“The journey was not easy, but we are happy today to say, finally Samora has its own police station. We are happy that today puts an end to residents putting themselves in danger of being raped and robbed just to go and report cases or make affidavits in Nyanga police station.”

“We want to emphasise in front of the minister and the national commissioner: yes, today we are celebrating the opening of Samora Machel, but our struggle still continues. Our fight from here is to address the challenge of Philippi Brown’s Farm. This is not enough,” said Makhazi.

Residents say they had to catch taxis which cost R8 or a car at night for around R150 to report a crime in the police station in Nyanga.

“Now we do not have to think twice about going to the police station to report a crime. I don’t need to catch a taxi it’s right here,” said resident Nomzi Ngcizela.

Ngcizela has been living in Samora Machel since 1997 and says crime is one of the biggest issues that face the community.

“People break into our houses no matter what the time of day, because they know the police are far and it would take time for them to come. Now we are safer because they are here, and we should see them patrolling these streets all day long,” said Ngcizela.

Another resident Thandiswa Mjobo, who is a member of the neighbourhood watch, said the members of the watch would now be able to do their work.

“Sometimes we can not work because we do not have police escort. Since we started in 2014 it has been a struggle.”

“Now we are hoping for the best with this new police station,” said Mjobo.

National commissioner of Police Kehla John Sitole said the ratio of police to the public in the country is one to 383 which almost double of ratio set by the UN of one to 220.

“When we review the personnel plan nationally we are 62,000 members down,” said Sitole.

“All we hope for now is that they do the work, and that this will not be a decoration in this community, because we need it, “said Samora resident Mncekeleli Welewele.

© 2018 GroundUp.
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TOPICS:  Policing