When the DA-led coalition took office here in Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) in August 2016, we made several commitments to the people who fired the ANC in this city and hired an alternative government. One of those commitments was to tackle the scourge of crime and create a safer city for all those who call ibhayi their home.
Today I can reveal that under this DA-led administration, we have seen an 11% drop in gang-related crimes in Helenvale and surrounding northern areas of NMB over the past 6 months. This is a huge testament to the success of NMB’s metro police force and its tireless work. Indeed, Nelson Mandela Bay is a much safer city than it was two years ago, as the DA-led government is winning the fight against crime.
When we took office, it was evident that corruption and poor governance by the previous ANC government meant that the fight against crime was non-existent. While the city’s metro police system was established in 2012, it still had only one employee – the police chief, Pinkie Mathabethe – who was being paid over R1 million a year.
For four years – from 2012 through 2016 – not one officer was appointed, not one vehicle was procured, and not one arrest was made. Yet the police chief took almost R5 million of city money – the people’s money – in salary alone. The people of Nelson Mandela were desperate for intervention, and sick and tired of the ANCs hollow promises.
Within the first months of being in office, the DA-led government removed the incumbent “police chief” and appointed the vastly experienced and competent Yolande Faro as the new police chief. Following this, the government saw to it that officials were put through training; vehicles and equipment were procured; and metro police stations were established.
I am happy to see that today the NMB metro police force has 129 fully trained metro police officers who are on the beat – regularly out doing patrols and by-law enforcement. In addition to the main station in Port Elizabeth, two new satellite metro police stations were established – one in KwaNobuhle, and this very station in Bethelsdorp. Moreover, plans are underway for two more satellite stations in Summerstrand, Beachfront and at the Thusong Centre, Motherwell.
The force currently has two deputy police chiefs, 38 vehicles, and a bicycle unit that patrols walkways, beachfront areas, and parks. In addition to this, the metro police force has a 24-hour call centre operation – on 041 585 1555 – where your call will be answered no matter the time or day. A ghost squad has also been formed within the metro police force that uses unmarked vehicles to patrol areas where people are often found drinking and driving.
The city also now has Gunshot Monitoring technology in crime hotspots, which detects gunshots and dispatches police to the exact location. Seventeen gang-related arrests in recent months have been linked to information provided by this new technology.
These interventions have only yielded positive results, showing that DA-led governments can turn the tide of crime in towns, cities, and provinces across the country.
The NMB metro police force has to date attended to over 25 000 crime fighting interactions, including 16 523 traffic fines and 804 by-law fines, and 9502 complaints attended to. 427 arrests have been made in total for riotous behaviour, possession of a stolen vehicle, fraud, robbery, assault, malicious injury to property, theft, corruption, and possession of illegal firearm and ammunition.
In addition to its own work, the metro police force maintains an excellent, positive working relationship with the regional SAPS. The cluster commander and police chief Faro work closely together, with many joint operations, including with clearing out of criminals and drug lords. SAPS and the NMB metro police hold joint meetings in order to collaborate and ramp up the fight against crime in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The safety of South Africans is of utmost importance to the DA. The people of South Africa, regardless of where they live and their economic circumstances, deserve to be kept safe by properly resourced police stations and a professionalized police service. Where in government, we will do all we can to fight the scourge of crime and create safer communities, towns and cities for the people of South Africa.