We pay tax, fix police station

Captain Tony Nicholas, Lakeside

Much has been written in the media recently of the proposed, and hopefully budgeted for, upgrade of the Muizenberg police station (“Station upgrade uproar”, False Bay Echo, April 13). The upgrade is long overdue in my opinion. The building is run down and must be a depressing workplace for our valiant police staff.

However, the media appear to have fuelled opposition to this upgrade citing higher needs elsewhere in the community.

I agree that there are many of our communities in need of such support. But let’s be reminded that we who make use of Muizenberg police station pay our taxes, therefore why should we be deprived of such essential state service that we pay for?

Yes, we are better able to afford our additional security measures in addition to establishing our own neighbourhood watches. These are the reasons why our crime statistics are lower thanelsewhere. We are prepared to do something, not just stand around with our hands out expecting everyone else to give us something.

If the state can afford to build Nkandla, presidential jets and to repeatedly bail out SAA and Eskom, then the state can afford to build and staff new, additional police stations in the communities that are in dire need of such infrastructure.

Even our local democratically elected councillor has turned against the Muizenberg community.

Ward councillor Aimee Kuhl responds:

It has been brought to my attention that the long overdue upgrade of the Muizenberg police station is set to cost R100 million in taxpayers money.

The plans put forward not only include the renovations of existing structures but propose a significant change in the footprint of the station. The make-up of the site is not conducive for the proposed expansion, this has led to the escalation of costs to approximately R20 000 per square meter. This is due to part of a mountain needing to be excavated in order to make space for an additional building

SAPS is not willing to address apartheid spacial planning by intending to spend 100 million on the upgrade of Muizenberg police station which cannot adequately service identified crime hot spots in Vrygrond. The residents are already concerned that the existing station is at a location that cannot easily be reached by our disadvantaged community in Vrygrond, which has been identified as the crime hotspot for the precinct by SAPS.

The Muizenberg Ratepayers’ Association saw plans five years ago which had foreseen an adequate and much smaller scale upgrade which is indeed desperately needed for dedicated SAPS staff. The officers working at the Muizenberg station are operating under appalling conditions which should have been addressed by renovating the existing structures years ago. We are in full support of creating better working conditions for the officers of Muizenberg. Spending a fraction of the suggested R100 million would suffice to achieve this, which in turn would free
up maintenance
budget to upgrade the other stations in the cluster.

The community at large is outraged and currently mobilising to protest. It is incomprehensible how SAPS sees to justify this while other stations within the cluster are also in desperate need of an upgrade. Spending an
exorbitant amount
of public funds to upgrade a station that is situated in a privileged area and that isn’t accessible, is highly problematic.

The community (via representatives present) was promised a public engagement around the proposed plans. To date we are waiting for this meeting, to adequately understand the reasoning behind the proposal that is on the table.