Activists demand an equal share of resources

Community members and members of the different civic groups singing and chanting during the debate on allocation of police resources at Isivivana Hall, in Khayelitsha.

Across the country crime is increasing at an alarming rate, and unless proper prevention strategies are put in place, it will continue to rise and put enormous pressure on police and communities.This emerged during a public debate on allocation of police resources, at Isivivana Hall, on Wednesday April 5.

The debate, organised by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), painted a grim picture about the dangers faced by police working in the black townships.

Participants from various civic organisations, including Equal Education and the Nyanga Community Police Forum called for an equitable share of resources. The organisations criticised the national and provincial governments for not being proactive in dealing with community and police challenges.

The groups are threatening to intensify their fight against the so-called “apartheid style” allocation of police resources.

Some of the challenges include a lack of police vehicles at the stations and police officers. They called on government to urgently address the challenges raised. In unison they said the situation was totally unacceptable.

SJC’s Chumile Sali said they also wanted parliamentarians to start discussions on some of the challenges. “There have never been discussions about these concerns. They have never been raised. For more than 10 years we have been saying Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Mitchell’s Plain and other areas are under-resourced. We have been saying these areas are dangerous. Crime stats have produced the same results every year, but no one is taking responsibility,” he said.

Mr Sali said the problem was a national matter and that his organisation worked on a plan to have other townships voicing their concerns.

Member of Mothibistad Community Police Forum, from Kuruman in the Northern Cape, Nonkululeko Teise, shared their experience.

“We are not getting any support whatsoever from the government. Our police station is a tiny four-roomed house.

The unemployment rate is high, so young people resort to crime. On the other hand, our police station is a health hazard. It demoralises the hardworking police officers. Today Mothibistad is a no-go area because of crime,” she said.

Nyanga resident Nelisa Ngqulana, who has taken her concerns about the challenges faced by Nyanga to Amandla Mobi for a petition to be posted for people to sign, said the police minister had the power to stop what is going on in the area, but turned a blind eye.

She blamed the government for allowing Nyanga to be the “murder capital” for so many years. “It is within their reach to stop crime there. For all these years of having such a bad title, you want to tell me there is no plan to stop that? They are to blame,” she said.

Ms Ngqulana placed some of the blame on the community for not standing up and fighting the scourge of crime.

Dumisani Qwebe, Nyanga CPF secretary, said Nyanga is yet to get freedom. He added that the government should be taken to court. Mr Qwebe also acknowledged that crime will not be defeated for as long as residents were divided. He called for unity.

Francois Beukman, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on police, said he believed the challenge of striking a balance between ensuring equitable allocation of police resources and scarce resources could only be realised through an efficient leadership at station level.

He said station commanders must be able to identify the resource needs of their respective precincts and communicate those to the provincial and related national command structures.

There should also be an engagement with the community to determine policing needs and priorities, added Mr Beukman.