‘Upgrade must go down’

2017-04-18 10:07

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A planned R100m upgrade to the Muizenberg Police Station has been described as “illogical and irrational” by social activists.

Members of the Social Justice Coalition protested against the proposed upgrade outside the provincial police head office on Tuesday, demanding the “just allocation of police resources” and claiming the police are “prioritising white and safer suburbs”.

People’s Post first reported on the planned upgrade last year, after the discussions over the temporary relocation of police personnel during the upgrade reached a stalemate with City of Cape Town officials (“Police upgrade quandary”, 23 August 2016).

The City was approached by the national department of public works with the plans for the upgrade, subcouncil 19 chairperson Felicity Purchase previously told People’s Post, but it was “evident it would not be money well-spent” and would not be more accessible to the elderly or the majority of people served by the policing precinct.

The precinct currently runs from Muizenberg to Vrygrond.

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

A site was offered to the national public works department by the City, but no conclusion was reached, Purchase explained.

But instead of providing a temporary site for two years during construction, the City had been suggested the station be moved permanently to a site in Vrygrond, Purchase said.
National public works department spokesperson Thami Mchunu says the department “carries out the requests to build any asset from a client department, using the budget of that client department”.

He referred all enquiries to national police.

Major General Sally de Beer, spokesperson for the national police, says the “project entails the repairing and upgrading of the police station in terms of its lifecycle”.

“The project consists of different stages and different work is done at each of these phases. The budget is not for one financial year but spans over several years. Projects to renovate police stations date back several years and are the result of thorough planning and organising. Plans to build new police stations are still underway and/or in various phases of implementation.”

Coalition spokesperson Chumile Seli says the upgrade is “illogical and irrational” when there are communities which are more in need of police resources and stations than Muizenberg, such as Vrygrond and Masiphumelele.

“The police should reallocate resources to areas that need it and build stations in Vrygrond and Masiphumelele.”

A mobile policing unit was placed at the Masiphumelele community hall in 2015 following protests from the community over a lack of visible and effective policing by the Ocean View station, as well as slow response times when crimes were reported (“Police moving in with mobile unit”, People’s Post, 27 October 2015).

Seli adds: “In Masi there is only a mobile station where people can’t even open cases and in Vrygrond people have to walk very far to access police resources.”

The group is also challenging the cost quoted for the Muizenberg upgrade.

“R100m is very high for a single station, especially an existing one,” he adds.

Provincial police say the upgrade falls to the national public works department. The project is “in the design stage as part of a planned process in terms of the building’s life cycle”, says provincial police head of communications Brigadier Novela Potelwa.

“We strive towards the equitable distribution of police resources guided by crime trends and patterns, as well as spatial growth and development.”

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