File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
Community policing forums have decried the deplorable state of some police stations in the province, calling for the government to rework policies to ensure the provision of decent workable spaces.

According to the SAPS annual report released to the Western Cape’s standing committee on community safety, there are three building projects in the planning and design stages for new police stations for the province - Samora Machel, Makhaza and Tafelsig.

Makhaza has been on a waiting list for a police station since the release of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing five years ago. Tafelsig has also been on the list for many years.

Also on the list are stations such as Kleinvlei, Gugulethu, Lingelethu West and Lwandle, whose operations are conducted in shipping containers which community leaders have labelled as “unsafe”.

Last month, residents in Site C, Khayelitsha also staged a protest demanding a police station be built in the crime-ridden area.

Community leaders complained that the mobile police station that was set up in their area three years ago had since disappeared a year ago.

Other communities have also been crying out for better facilities.

This comes as the building housing the Goodwood police station is going under auction on Wednesday for R5.8 million.

According to the Rawson Property website where the building is listed, the Department of Public Works, who are tenants, are paying R59 216 a month for the lease.

But the SAPS lease, which would have come to an end on December 31 has been extended for another year.

Out of the province’s 151 stations, 27 are leased, while 124 are state-owned. And of the 30 satellite stations, 18 are leased, while 12 are owned.

Kleinvlei CPF chairperson Julian Unthank said the area’s station was housed in what used to be a three-roomed house. “We have one structure that used to be a house, and a lot of containers. The container housing the clerk’s office is so old that the floor might collapse under it,” he said.

“Although it is fenced, it is very accessible. There are safety issues all around. We have two cells and not one designated for females who must be transported to Mfuleni if there is space. Other prisoners also have to be taken to other police stations when ours get too full.

“It is not practical. Those cells themselves are behind this ‘house’ and could make it easy for escapes.”

He said when people come to report crimes, there is no confidentiality.

“Even though we’ve got a room for rape victims to report a crime, there are no separate cubicles to go in, no privacy. As a result, there is low morale among members who don’t feel safe there.”

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union spokesperson Mncedisi Mbolekwa said the union had a complaints desk where members can lodge their complaints about working spaces.

“Although there have been complaints, particularly at Kleinvlei, around members not being safe, it is not something that has been escalated,” he said.

The SAPS and the Department of Public Works were unavailable for comment.

Weekend Argus