DURBAN - More than a third of police vehicles in KwaZulu-Natal are in various stages of repairs at police garages, with slow turnaround times and backlogs being investigated by the Department of Transport, Community Safety and Liaison.
The department said 4 227 vehicles are allocated to 184 police stations in KZN. Last week, 1 716 vehicles were undergoing various stages of repairs, stated MEC Peggy Nkonyeni in a written reply to a parliamentary question from DA MPL Sharon Hoosen.
The KZN police stations are split into 11 districts. Hoosen said feedback revealed the full extent of the dire situation in terms of turnaround times for SAPS vehicle repairs in the province.
Hoosen said four of KZN’s worst SAPS stations for serious crime, including murder and rape, had vehicles waiting to be repaired. Three vehicles from Inanda SAPS: minor engine repair 53 days; minor brake overhaul 72 days; and electrical starting fault 113 days.
For Umlazi SAPS: battery replacement 19 days; minor brake system repair 36 days; electric ignition repair 42 days; electric accessories and wiring 30 days.
For Plessislaer SAPS: windscreen repairs 36 days; minor brake system repairs 40 days; windscreen repairs 50 days; battery replacement 50 days; minor exhaust repairs 76 days; electric accessories and wiring 106 days; minor brake system repairs 121 days.
Several vehicles in for windscreen repairs are in SAPS garages for between 79 and 193 days. A vehicle from KwaDukuza SAPS is in the garage for 186 days awaiting battery replacement.
“This information illustrates the inadequacies within the SAPS. It also begs the question of how many vehicles are on the ground at any given time, keeping our communities safe. If a vehicle is waiting 121 days for minor brake repairs, it is four months that it is not able to attend to serious crimes.”
Hoosen said there is a direct correlation between these vehicles being unavailable and KZN’s rising crime statistics. The real travesty is that lives are constantly lost in the province as a result of a lack of police visibility, compounded by “a scarcity of the vital resource of a vehicle”.
The report, signed by acting head of department, RL Goniwe, said interventions were being done by the department to prevent backlogs at the garages – procurement of additional tools for the artisans; procurement of more advanced power tools; product training; and end users having been sensitised on how to properly book vehicles into the garages.
Goniwe said there will be weekly meetings with all the “garage commanders” and daily meetings to follow up on vehicles in the garages, and constant monitoring and evaluating the work done by the garages.