Police upgrade quandary

2016-08-23 06:00

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A R100m planned renovation on Muizenberg Police Station appears to have ground to a halt.

This as stalemate is reached over the temporary relocation of the police personnel.

The City of Cape Town was approached by the national department of public works with the plans for the upgrade, says subcouncil 19 chairperson Felicity Purchase, but it was “evident it would not be money well-spent”, she says.

“It would provide a magnificent building but would not be more accessible to the elderly or the majority of people served by the precinct,” she says.

Muizenberg Community Police Forum chairperson Frank Bokhorst says on various occasions the plans for an upgrade have been discussed.

“The whole issue of improving the Muizenberg Police Station has been on people’s minds for about a decade but now it seems to be gaining momentum,” he says.

“The building is very solid and will easily last for another 100 years but the whole thing is in a sorry state inside and out.”

The precinct currently runs from Muizenberg to Vrygrond.

This poses a challenge for impoverished community members who need to access services at the station, says Purchase.

“In the Community Service Centre it is quite common to meet people from Vrygrond who have come all the way on foot. Reporting crime incidents to the police is crucial to ensure a good response, and yet the area where crime is most prevalent is furthest from the station,” Bokhorst says.

“Police response is delayed when their vehicles have to negotiate the heavy traffic in the approaches to Capricorn and Vrygrond. Even for people living nearby the present location on the mountainside and in a congested area is not easily accessible.”

The planned upgrade, which will see the construction of a new building behind the current police station along with various refurbishments, will require the station staff to be accommodated on a temporary site.

A site was located by the City during a survey in 2012 and offered to the national public works department as an alternative site to house the police station. However, no conclusion was reached, Purchase explains.

But instead of providing a temporary site for two years during construction, the City has been suggested the station be moved permanently to a site in Vrygrond, Purchase says.

“The upgrade of the station would require the temporary relocation of the present police personnel and building from scratch on the new site would not affect the running of the station.”

Although the local police appear to be “in favour of the move” and it could boost service delivery, Bokhorst says, there are a number of concerns.

“There is quite a drastic housing shortage in the Vrygrond area. A police station will occupy land that could be used for housing, and some people will feel disappointed about that. Also, prisoners due to appear in Muizenberg Magistrate’s Court are routinely kept in the cells right next door in the police station. Unless the court is also relocated, moving the station to Vrygrond will affect that arrangement, and of course police who must appear in court will have to spend a lot of time shuttling back and forth.”

People’s Post requested comment from both local and provincial police and was referred to the national department of public works. The department had not commented at the time of going to print.

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