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The City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, will visit law enforcement depots across Cape Town to deal with shortcomings before the festive season.
Smith headed out with law enforcement officers from the Khayelitsha depot on Thursday to get a first-hand account of happenings on the ground and to highlight the work of the officers.
He plans to check up on facilities, the staff and the equipment and determine some of the challenges they face.
“We’re doing it because it is the start of the festive season and we have been focusing on the specialised units like the gang and the drug unit and they become sort of the ‘celebrity boys’, instead of focusing on the guys who go out to deal with complaints every day,” Smith said.
The Khayelitsha depot services the whole east area of the city including Delft, Blackheath, Gordon’s Bay, Harmony Park and the entire Khayelitsha suburb.
Nathaneal Simmons, in charge of the Khayelitsha police station, said that “on a quiet day” they attended to an average of about 25 to 30 complaints.
In total there are 41 members servicing the east area, with 14 staff members on duty in Khayelitsha between 8am and 4.30pm every day.
Officers remain on standby duty for the night shift.
“We’ve technically got people on a 24-hour basis,” Simmons said.
Smith said the main challenge for the officers at the moment was transport. There were not enough vehicles and that put the officers at risk, he said.
However, Smith said that a R9 million corporate vehicle tender had been put out for more vehicles.
The officers also needed a truck to impound merchandise, and the absence of firearms was also a concern.
“The truth is the service has grown faster than we have been able to resource it,” he said.
Smith’s and the officers’ first stop on the streets of Khayelitsha was at Lunga Tsotsi, a trader who sells basins and bathroom plumbing equipment in Mew Way.
For Tsotsi, the pavement sales are his only means of income and he has been doing it for six years.
Tsotsi had already been given a warning that his stock was blocking the pavement and on Thursday officers returned to issue a compliance notice.
If Tsotsi still did not comply he would be issued a R1 000 fine. If he failed to pay the fine the officers could prosecute and confiscate his merchandise.
“But I will correct whatever it is I did wrong,” he said.
Smith added that gender transformation had been known to be very slow in the law enforcement division. He said the division was considered the “bad boys of transformation”.
“Slowly but surely the new blood is rising,” Smith said.
Principal inspector Nokwanele Sinduku, stationed at the Khayelitsha office, is the principal officer for the east area. She said they aimed to keep the beaches clean and safe this festive season.
The 34-year-old officer has held the position of principal inspector for six months, following 11 years as a metro police officer.
“I think the biggest challenge at work is that it’s a man’s environment, so many men – and about 50 percent of them are older so there is a level of respect that I am expected to show to them – so sometimes I have difficulty dealing with that,” she said.
Sinduku said the dangers of the job included attending operations at night.
“I have a good relationship with my staff, so if I am called out at night I will contact an officer I know is closest to the area [of the complaint] and we’ll drive together,” she said.
“It’s a challenge being a mother, a wife and an officer,” she added.