A number of police stations in this province appear to be ill equipped to adequately function during load shedding according to information from the South African Police Service (SAPS) Strategic Plan published last week. I am now requesting from SAPS Provincial Management a full briefing on police station functionality during load-shedding in light of the functional under resourcing which is likely to occur up to 2017/18 in this province.
Earlier this year a number of police stations reported that during scheduled load-shedding days and times their phones do not work when the power is off with other stations reporting that they don’t even have diesel to power the generators at times.
All these coupled with claims from the public that SAPS are unable to take down statements during load-shedding requires immediate investigation and public reassurance that safety in the province is not subject to the availability of electricity.
Though I appreciate that, according to the latest Strategic Plan of the SAPS, 22 out of 48 generators to be supplied by the SAPS are earmarked for the Western Cape; more than half of these will only be made available in 2017/08.
This leaves three years of uncertainty for the people of the province whether they will be able to access vital safety services or not during what has now become regular load shedding.
Furthermore, of the four provinces to receive electricity generators for use in an event of a power outage, the Western Cape will be receiving almost half of the new supply which is yet more evidence that this province has been neglected by National SAPS Management in the past.
The recent media reports that only 30% of SAPS stations countrywide have electricity generators and that radio communications can be interrupted by prolonged power outages are of great concern as most stations uses a switchboard system for the phones which needs electricity to run on and are dependent on radio communications for officers in the field.
I have been raising concerns about SAPS stations’ accessibility by phone during load-shedding with suspended Provincial Commissioner Arno Lamoer since February this year. At the time I was assured that the SAPS are addressing the challenges and that the public should rather call 10111 during load-shedding (instead of 08600 10111).
The 10111 number has however not been without fault over the last couple of months with my office receiving numerous complaints from the public about the line not being answered or an unacceptably slow response.
These are serious challenges which cannot be left unchecked, and I am confident that the current SAPS management in this province will do everything possible to ensure that policing in this province is unaffected by Eskom’s inability to supply reliable energy to essential services.
No person in the Western Cape should be exposed to a lesser quality of policing and safety services or not to be able to access help when the power is out.