Acting national police chief Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane Picture: ANA

Pretoria - Acting national police chief Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane on Thursday urged South Africans to exercise patience when calling the emergency line 10111.

During a tour of the Attlyn Shopping Centre in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, journalists asked Phahlane if reported labour-related disputes at the police call center had been resolved, and the general complaints of citizens who allege that they could not use the emergency line this festive season.

Phahlane responded: “As far as the 10111 is concerned, like any other number, there is a peak when too many calls are being made. There is a congestion, so we call upon our people just to exercise patience in terms of the waiting period. You call any call centre, somewhere they tell you that you are number 20 in the queue”.

“If you drop [the phone call], you are falling back, you are not getting closer. People must exercise patience but the number is fully operational. You can gladly call that number at any given time.”

The police chief cautioned against hoax calls being made to the emergency line.

“We must discourage the hoax calls – people calling for the sake of calling and diverting the police from the work they are supposed to be doing,” said Phahlane.

As the 2016 festive season sets in, Phahlane said South African communities were safe, under the protection of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

“Our citizens, including you and me, are very safe. You are talking to me without looking around. You fear nothing because the police are here,” said Phahlane.

Accompanied by several top SAPS managers Phahlane toured the busy shopping centre – at times stopping to chat with shoppers.

Centre Manager of the Attlyn Shopping Centre Maggie Phuti said the visit by the SAPS top brass was appreciated.

“We will highly appreciate if this [visit] can really happen time and again so that government can reduce crime at the shopping centre,” said Phuti.

“We, as the shopping centres, are the target. We are targeted by robbers. For SAPS to be on site, it will benefit both the tenants [businesses] and the people of Atteridgeville.

“The rate of crime in Atteridgeville is very high. For SAPS being on site, I think, it’s going to benefit us. At the end of the day, if this centre is not safe, when tenants are supposed to renew their lease agreements, they will not come back.”

The police chief and other senior police officers have been visiting shopping centres, malls and complexes across South Africa as part of an ongoing campaign during the festive season to highlight major police visibility and to ensure the safety of citizens and visitors during this period – often characterised by high criminal activity.