DA KZN:  SAPS Mid-Illovo visit reveals crisis conditions

Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison

The Democratic Alliance will call on KZN Community Safety MEC, Willies Mchunu and provincial SAPS Commissioner, Mammonnye Ngobeni, to urgently intervene after an oversight visit exposed a delivery crisis at SAPS Mid-Illovo.

The DA’s visit, which comes after numerous complaints from community members, has revealed that only half of all patrol vehicles assigned to the police station are functional, with a massive 66% of vehicles assigned to detectives out of operation.

According to staff, the majority of these vehicles are currently at the SAPS maintenance yard in Pietermaritzburg for repairs. However, according to SAPS officials, these repairs have been delayed due to lack of funds.

The visit also revealed massive problems with infrastructure. The station’s buildings, leased from a private individual, are very old requiring frequent maintenance. There is also a lack of space for detectives with some working out of a rondavel.

Of major concern are the police station’s holding cells. SAPS Mid-Illovo has not had prisoner holding cells since the 1990s. According to a police official, the outside corrugated-iron holding cells were declared inhumane, closed and never replaced. As a result, all arrested persons have to be transported as far as Richmond, Camperdown and Pietermaritzburg. This is all done at great cost in terms of fuel and time adding to the massive maintenance burden on vehicles.

There is also a problem with the station sanitation needs. According to officials, one of the outside, corrugated-iron toilets have become infested with bees, which have yet to be dealt with.

The DA is deeply concerned by these circumstances.  Mid-Illovo SAPS is a vital police station serving the areas of Eston and Mid-Illovo with a deeply rural population of 45 000 covering 850 km2.

The impact of the current situation on SAPS Mid-Illovo on service delivery is massive, with many communities now forced to rely on private security firms for their safety.

The DA demands that the MEC and Commissioner urgently rectify the problems witnessed at this police station.  The people of Eston and Mid-Illovo deserve a fully functioning SAPS and the right to live without fear of criminals.