Cape Town – Crime and drug abuse in Cape Town were out of control, President Jacob Zuma said during a surprise stop in Nyanga, promising sweeping changes in one of the most dangerous areas in the country.

Zuma swooped on the unsuspecting police bosses and staff of the Nyanga police station during his unannounced visit on Tuesday, which appeared to be a fact-finding mission on what police were doing to drive down drug abuse, among other priority crimes.

The president’s visit came as Stats SA announced citizens were increasingly feeling unsafe, with 41.7% of households believing crime had increased in their areas in the last three years compared with 31.2% in 2010.

“One of the major problems is the drug lords, because as long as they are there, it becomes more difficult to deal with the drug problems,” Zuma told Station Commissioner Vuyisile Ncata and Cluster Commander Moses Memela in a sit-down interview.

“What is your strategy to deal with the crime issue (because) Cape Town is said to be the capital of drug abuse? Are there any specific plans to try get rid of drugs?” the president wanted to know.

Zuma undertook the visit as part of the presidential Siyahlola Monitoring programme to gain a first-hand account of work that is being done to fight crime in the area.

Memela, who oversees police stations in six different areas including Nyanga, Manenberg and Bishop Lavis, informed the president of some of the cluster’s challenges and successes.

“We have installed a satellite station in Browns Farm that has been operational since October 2016, and has contributed immensely in the mitigation of crime in the area,” he said.

“Nyanga therefore has an additional 24-hour service point that is rendered from the Philippi Railway Corridor with a total of 60 personnel. The police station is now working very well with the Community Policing Forum, and the partnership with community is improving,” Memela said.

He said their request for an additional police station had been shot down in favour of a clinic.

“We need another fully fledged police station in this area. We had scouted an ideal location, but unfortunately we were then told that property had been earmarked for a clinic."

“We question that, Mr President, because there is already a clinic about 300m from that spot.”

Zuma responded: “We need clinics, that’s a fact. But we also need police stations. I think it’s a question of priority, so to speak.”

Zuma said the Presidency would engage the departments in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster “to attend to challenges” in the community.

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Cape Argus