Cape Town -
Claims that Hout Bay police were blocked from responding to a crime on Chapman’s Peak Drive because they could not pay a toll fee are a lie, Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle says.
The police officers were responding to a robbery complaint on Chapman’s Peak on Sunday and they did so nearly three hours later, according to a report in the Cape Argus.
When asked about this, the police station commander was quoted as saying that the officers were blocked from performing their work because they did not pay the requisite R36 toll fee.
“This is a lie,” Carlisle said in a statement on Wednesday.
Carlisle’s office provided screen grabs with time stamps captured from CCTV at the tollgate’s booth.
He said that at 1.17pm the police officer driving the vehicle was issued with a day pass at the toll booth which allowed the officers entry into Chapman’s Peak Drive. About three minutes later, the vehicle returned, the day pass was handed back and the vehicle left Chapman’s Peak driving in the direction of Hout Bay, said Carlisle.
He said the vehicle returned to the booth 55 minutes later, was allowed to enter Chapman’s Peak Drive a second time and after 21 minutes left Chapman’s Peak.
“Claims by the Hout Bay station commissioner, Colonel Bongani Mtakati, that his vehicles are regularly held up at the Chapman’s Peak toll are demonstrably without substance,” Carlisle said. “I certainly hope that these fables are not being used to cover up for the fact that Hout Bay SAPS is infamous for their long delays in responding to reported crimes.”
Carlisle said the provincial government and Entilini Operations, the company which manages the toll plaza, had an agreement that police, ambulances and fire-fighting vehicles were exempt from paying the R36 toll fee. He said his department was planning to introduce an automatic number plate recognition system at the toll plaza. The system, which was at an advanced stage of testing, would allow emergency vehicles on duty easy access through the toll.
“It is unacceptable that citizens and visitors still do not have the assurance from SAPS that they will respond in a reasonable time when incidents occur. SAPS can be certain that they will continue to be immediately allowed access to Chapman’s Peak.”
He said he hoped the Hout Bay police would give the same guarantee when responding to crimes. Police spokesman Thembinkosi Kinana said the police did not want to comment on Carlisle’s statement as Mtakati and the management of Entilini were due to meet.
“It will be taking place soon and we do not want to pre-empt the outcome of the meeting by making a statement,” he said.