Makhaza residents could soon have their police station, after the controversial R100 million facelift of the Muizenberg police station was scrapped.
The announcement was made by deputy police minister Bongani Mkongi, at a meeting with Khayelitsha residents on Sunday April 23, at the Khayelitsha Training Centre, following public outcry over the proposed Muizenberg police station upgrade which has been a subject of discussion since the news broke a few weeks ago.
The Social Justice Coalition and various community organisations including community police forums from different areas such as Nyanga and Khayelitsha had called for the project to be stopped and for the money to be used in a community where the need was greater.
To allay the fears and put the matter to bed, Mr Mkongi held a meeting with residents and assured them the Muizenberg project had been halted. The gathering followed another meeting which had been held at Isivivana centre the previous day, Saturday April 22, where the SJC and various other organisations met to discuss the plans.
Participants at the meeting described the proposed upgrade as “ridiculous and shocking” and called for it to be stopped.
Frank Bokhorst, chairperson of the Muizenberg CPF, said they had been puzzled by the proposed plan and that they had not been consulted about it.
Mr Bokhorst said according to the plan they had obtained from the provincial Department of Public Works, the police station would have had underground parking and other “unnecessary things”. He said the existing police station building had been around for nearly 100 years, meaning it was a heritage building and SAPS could not just decide among the themselves to make changes without consulting them and the South African Heritage Council.
Mr Bokhorst said the community had wanted the money to be used to build a police station in Vrygrond, which fell into Muizenberg SAPS’ jurisdiction. He said the community of Vrygrond was in need of a police station and there was vacant land along the M5 which had been identified as a possible location.
“By building a police station in that area, we had hoped that would create employment for that community. But we want the residents of Vrygrond to pull their weight as well to show that they need this police station. We will fight until we get what we need,” he said.
Chumile Sali, spokesperson of SJC, said it made no sense for SAPS to spend millions on upgrading a police station while some communities waited for police stations to be established in their areas.
He believed that the proposal to upgrade Muizenberg police station had illustrated that government considered areas predominantly populated by white people as being more important than those where black people lived.
He argued that government continued to deploy officers and resources to areas where they were not needed.
Buyisile Makhasi, chairperson of Nyanga Community Police Forum(CPF) said for the past 22 years they had made an impassioned plea to the government to build a second police station in Nyanga. But their pleas had been ignored. Responding to the outcry, Mr Mkongi described the upgrade as “rubbish”, saying the money would be redirected to needy areas.
“The palace police station project is going to be halted. It is not going to happen. We are redirecting the resources to build a police station in Makhaza. We are redirecting other resources to build a police station in Nyanga and Samora,” he said.
Mr Sali applauded Mr Mkongi’s response and said Mr Mkongi had assured them that the Makhaza and Nyanga police stations would be built soon and hopefully a police station in Vrygrond as well. “Mr Mkongi has instructed the provincial police commissioner to start with the necessary process of the Makhaza police station and by June he must come back with a report,” he said.