Prior to the launch of the long-awaited mobile police unit in Site C, members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) took the streets of the area on Friday, May 20, for a crime-awareness campaign aimed at addressing alcohol, drug and child abuse, domestic violence and other social ills.
Officers from the crime prevention unit and different police stations conducted random stop and searches at the Kuwait Taxi rank. They also handed out pamphlets informing people about the launch tomorrow, Friday May 27, at the Site C Sports grounds. The unit will be open 24 hours every day of the week, while offering all the necessary police services.
Khayelitsha cluster commander General Johan Brand said the launch of the unit meant celebrations and victory for the community. “If you look at Site C, it is one of the most problematic areas in terms of crime figures in Khayelitsha. This will bring services closer to the people. All services will be provided, with the exception of detective services or firearm licence applications. Then again, detectives are always out seeing their clients,” he said.
General Brand urged the community to play a role in protecting the unit. “The question would be, will people give support to the mobile and will they protect police? We all know that police are under fire. I would urge residents to make sure that our members are protected,” he said.
During the operation at the taxi rank, most men present could be heard grumbling when this call was made by General Brand. Men claimed to be made a laughing stock by police when they reported rape.
Responding to these claims, police said in such cases the matter should be reported to senior SAPS members.
Lieutenant Thembi Gwe said police always wore name tags and residents should get to know officers’ names so they could report to them when they had identified crime suspects.
Lieutenant Gwe also addressed rape in the townships, and advised that people should refrain from taking advantage of their friends when they went out with them.
She also provided details about the different types of sexual offence.
“Rape is rape but we have a way of classifying it. We classified it as acquaintance rape, compelled rape, date rape and bonus rape. But as I have mentioned, they are all rape,” she said.
However resident Thembenkosi Qondela warned that while the unit was welcome, it could not prevent crime alone. He said there should be solid social interventions involving young people, and youth participation in society should be prioritised.
Mr Qondela urged residents to work with the police.
“There should be concrete social intervention linked with police visibility, then we will be on a right track. Give youths an opportunity to engage on many platforms like economic participation, something that is not happening here. Young people are left in shebeens because there is a lack of things they could do,” he warned.
“But of course people will appreciate it (the unit) because they will not have to travel to Site B. Important documents will be certified here. There will be no spending on transport. In terms of crime fighting, residents will have to work with police,” he said.
Another resident, who only identified himself as Xolani, welcomed the campaign but stressed that there were not enough police vans at Site B police station. He questioned whether there would be more police visibility after the launch.
However, he said the coming mobile unit might be of help to many residents.
“There is hope that things will change for the better. Muggings and housebreaking might take a tumble,” he said.
Youth desk coordinator Khayelitsha cluster spokesperson Thembakazi Jacobs urged residents, especially youth, to continue working with police. She called on young people to be part of the desk and interact with the desk for their enquiries.
“Now that we are heading to Child Protection Month, young people should be actively involved. They should also join youth organisations and non-governmental organisations to fight the scourge of drugs, rape, substance abuse and other social ills,” she said.