Station upgrade uproar

Muizenberg police station has been earmarked for an upgrade.

Civil rights organisations and community members from Cape Town’s most crime-afflicted areas claim that R100 million earmarked for an upgrade of Muizenberg police station is “unjust”.

Social Justice Coalition and Equal Education, along with residents from Khayelitsha, Langa, Nyanga and Grassy Park picketed in front of the SAPS provincial head office in Green Point, demanding that the funds be allocated to areas where they were most needed.

Safety and Justice programme head Chumile Sali said the allocation of resources by SAPS was “discriminatory”. “This is unjust and wrong for an area where the residents can afford private security and state-of-the-art systems are being serviced in such a way,” Mr Sali said.

“Last year, Nyanga had 10 times more murders to those reported in Muizenberg, so how can this area be prioritised above the townships and the Cape Flats?”

He said the unfair distribution of resources was why civil rights organisations had taken the acting national police commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, and the provincial police head, Khombinkosi Jula, to the Equality Court.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said the planned upgrade of Muizenberg police station was a Department of Public Works project, which was in the design stage.

Public Works spokesperson Thamsanqa Mchunu said it only maintained state infrastructure and was tasked to upgrade or extend according to department’s needs. Mr Mchunu said the department had also just begun work on the renovation project and that the R100m budget had been provided by SAPS.

Therefore it could not say why Muizenberg police station had been prioritised over other areas.

The mega-project came as a surprise to residential role players as the department announced a new plan which would include large-scale excavation to make the station, which is perched on a steep hill, bigger.

Initial plans proposed five years ago only entailed the upgrading of the building, which was built in the 1900s.

Muizenberg’s crime statistics pale in comparison with those of Khayelitsha and Nyanga, where the murder rate was five and 10 times higher, respectively.

According to Statistics SA, there were 27 murders reported in Muizenberg last year, while 279 people were killed in Nyanga and 161 in Khayelitsha during the same period.

A total of 288 robbery with aggravated circumstances cases were opened in Muizenberg last year, Nyanga recorded 1 503 and Khayelitsha 1 226.

Councillor Jerry Gordon, whose ward includes the Vrygrond area, one of the poorest townships in Cape Town, said the Muizenberg police station was “practically inaccessible” for Vrygrond residents, who had to travel more than 4km to report a crime.

“The majority of people in Vrygrond don’t have cars, so if a crime happens in the middle of the night, they’d have to catch a taxi – and where are the taxis at that time? That’s why most crimes go unreported.

“I support the upgrade, but why can’t they build a station where the people are? We’ve been asking for one for eight years.”

Muizenberg councillor Aimee Kuhn said: “Where the station is, is a white privileged area the community that needs services, that needs schools and clinics and a police station, is Vrygrond.

“We acknowledge the station needs an upgrade. So we’ve proposed public works upgrades to what the plans were five years ago, and use the rest to upgrade other stations in the cluster so all can benefit.

“The picture that’s being painted is that, as the councillor, I should just sign off and be happy because it’s resources for my ward. But that’s not going to address apartheid spatial planning, which we are being criticised for not addressing it.” – Cape Times and Cape Argus