When the Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko released the crime stats for 2016, it was a narrative of nightmarish proportions in which only the perpetrator would score. Overall figures indicate that the murder rate increased by 4.9%, car hi-jacking increased by 14.3% and robbery increased by 2.7%.
A further revelation made was that Nyanga, one of the oldest black townships in Cape Town, was the most likely place for murder to take place. For five years now, Nyanga has maintained the ghastly reputation of being the murder capital of the country, yet curiously, the area only has one police station servicing the community.
It seems crazy that an area like Nyanga, densely populated with an unemployment rate of 70%, on the verge of self-destruction has never before garnered sufficient attention to solve what has overtime become an untameable situation. The urgency of the establishment of a new police station in Nyanga has reached fever pitch and cannot be overstated.
Following this stomach-churning revelation, community member and Activist, Nelisa Nqulana initiated a petition to build another police station in Nyanga. Violence is normal in Nyanga, local pathways to criminality make it easy for crimes to occur without consequence. 22.5% of crimes occurred in the Western Cape, approximately 490 383 crimes. Out of this, almost 300 murders occurred in Nyanga.
Last week, a dialogue hosted by Liverty Africa at the Zolani Centre in Nyanga revealed that a police station could only be built once land became available. “The first thing is to secure a land site, so I cannot tell you how long that will take. There is a priority list for the entire country where police stations are needed. Once you are on the list, maybe they can push you up, but for now, I cannot say when we will be getting a new police station because we’re still looking for land,” said Nyanga Cluster Commander Memela.
“We’re the murder capital of the whole country, so my assumption is that we should be number one on the priority list, right?” asked Nelisa. The Commander maintained that for Nyanga to qualify to be on the priority list land must be available. “If you have land, then they will start taking about building a police station,” he said.
During the dialogue, the Western Cape Police Ombudsman disclosed that they received 86 complaints from their offices, but emphasised that the community of Nyanga has a role to play: “The role of the community is to work with the police. People should report crime and actively participate in crime eradication measures because criminals are opportunistic, so if the community is not participating in crime fighting mechanisms then crime will rise,” said Ombudsman representative.
“We will continue with the petition, there are young people out there collecting signatures because we still feel it is a worthy cause to pursue. The State does have a responsibility to provide the facility, and as a community member, the Constitution guarantees me that you have a responsibility. Saying a piece of land is preventing a second police station is not enough. For the sake of building trust it would be great if we could engage more,” said Nelisa.
Photo credit: eNCA