Anger over police station move

2010-04-29 14:13

Cape Town - Reports of community dissatisfaction over the proposed move of Woodstock police station to a location 2km away from its current site for safety reasons have been challenged by the chairperson of the Woodstock Community Policing Forum.

"We welcome the move. We have been pushing for it for years," Teun Baartman who has been heading the forum since 2005, told News24.

Baartman said he was disturbed by newspaper reports that the police station move was prompted by safety concerns linked to the death of a detective outside the station in 2008, saying instead that the "old" building itself was the problem and that the CPF had started the process to have the station moved in 2005.

Building too small

"The building is not adequate. It's falling apart. It is not secure for the people working there and the public," Baartman said.

He said the building was too small to accommodate staff members and that this had led to detectives working from a building down the road. He said there was also not enough parking and the "narrow" two-way access road to the station was not appropriate for a police station.

He said after looking around and consulting with provincial South African Police Service (Saps) authorities, the building on the grounds of the Groote Schuur Hospital was the "only building that found favour with the Saps".

He also dismissed claims that this would leave the areas of Woodstock, Salt River and Walmer Estate with less police visibility than before.

"It's not about that, it's not an operational issue," he said adding that the station would continue to police the same district that it does now.

Baartman said the move, which he doesn't expect soon, would in fact improve police service to the community.

Community speaks out

Community members disagreed however, saying the move to Observatory would expose the area to more crime.

"Most crime is in Woodstock itself. What about the Woodstock community?" Faried Davids told News24 in response to reports that the move might have also been prompted the murders of University of Cape Town students and staff in and around Observatory in recent years.

"Why don't they open another one there?" he asked.

Davids said the move out of Woodstock would benefit those more financially well-off.

"Everybody needs protection."

Faiek Ababer, who lives "just around the corner" from the police station, echoed Davids's comments, saying the police station should stay where it is, as Woodstock is "a problem area".

"That means the closest police station will be the one in Cape Town. This doesn't make sense," Ababer told News24.

"You can't compare two killings in Obs to the murders that happen in Woodstock. How many people are killed in Woodstock? You don't get a drug house in Obs, but there are many in Woodstock. There's one on my street," he said adding that relocating would affect response time negatively.

Increase in drug-related crime

Statistics reportedly show an increase in drug-related crime in the area policed by the Woodstock station. This includes Salt River and Walmer Estate.

The Cape Argus report followed a response to a parliamentary question by Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa.

The minister's spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said the reason for the move had been "misinterpreted".

"It's not going to be shut down," he told News24 adding that residents had no cause to worry as policing would not be negatively affected.

Mnisi echoed Baartman's reasons for the move, saying the police station's condition was "not deemed to be appropriate" for police officers to work effectively.

The matter was still being assessed to find out whether the proposed move would be cost effective or not, Mnisi said.

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