Cape Town - Police have confirmed that their communication system has been down for over six days and will only be fully operational by the end of the week.
Action Society activist Ian Cameron took the issue to TikTok and explained that when one calls the emergency number, the operator will answer but has no way of communicating with the stations.
“Well, the police radio system has been off since last Thursday and by Monday it was still off.
“What this means is that when you call 10111 and they need to dispatch a rapid response or Flying Squad to you, there is no way of effectively doing that. In fact, some of the members are now communicating via WhatsApp.
“In spaces like Khayelitsha, for example, when there is load shedding, there is no signal and WhatsApp doesn’t work.
“WhatsApp has become their core way of speaking, or they just call each other. The Flying Squad is now working in dangerous areas… and they are not giving them proper communication tools.
“I think on Saturday, where the police were being shot at by gangsters, I think in Hanover Park, they couldn’t call for back-up.”
Cameron said on Sunday night a police officer sent him a picture of a radio that was dysfunctional.
“In 2023, I spoke about (how) the Flying Squad and other more specialised units in the Western Cape don’t have a way of communicating.”
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said the problems with the radio communications at the SAPS 10111 centre in Maitland were picked up on Thursday last week.
“As part of the contingency plan, an alternative communication system (though with some constraints) was immediately activated, temporarily. As a matter of urgency the SAPS in the Western Cape has sourced specialised parts that are meant to bolster the communication system in order to function optimally, thereby improving service delivery.
“It is envisaged that the replacement parts will be on site soon, resulting in the communication system upgrade that will progressively enhance the system’s output for a longer term.
“It bears mentioning that every endeavour is being made to ensure the 10111 centre in Maitland will be fully operational by the end of the week.”
Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen said the dedicated men and women in blue were trying their best to deliver a professional service in this province.
“They are miserably failed by an inept national government that is not providing the necessary equipment and resources for them to be effective in their work. They’ve been set up to fail and it is the people of this province who are suffering,” he said.
“This does not mean that the management in this province should not take any responsibility.
“I am aware that engagements are occurring and processes have been enacted to remedy the current situation. However, I have stressed to SAPS management the urgency with which the new system should be running without further delay.”
Allen added he would continue to engage the provincial management, so that residents receive the service that is due to them.
“This is yet another reminder why SAPS has to be devolved to a capable provincial government such as ours, as we will not allow this type of incompetence under our management.”
The administrators of community WhatsApp crime groups have also complained about the issue.
Shaheed Bester of Spot on Crime said: “I was in a meeting just last week where we were told to contact 10111 by an officer, but the station commander gave us his phone number, because he knows what is going on.
“The whole system is a mess. All stations have faulty lines. Our WhatsApp group is much faster than the 10111 line and also the police.”