By Anita Dangazele
The Bhityi Police Station came under the spotlight this weekend during an imbizo at the Mqhekezweni Great Place in Mthatha.
The station is responsible for 62 villages and thousands of people, yet it is equipped with fewer than 10 police vehicles.
On Saturday, about 200 residents from different villages across the area came out to share their grievances with Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Police Minister Bheki Cele.
“Fix our access roads, give us jobs and provide us with more police members and resources,” said a resident.
Villagers told the imbizo that police in this area often complain about understaffing and the state of roads preventing them from getting to villages in the precinct.
Nobomi Ngqukumbana from Dalindyebo village told the imbizo: “Sometimes it takes police three days to arrive when called to respond to crime.”
She said because of the bad condition of many of the access roads, police often failed to respond to crime scenes. Ambulances were also not able to collect patients.
“If someone is stabbed, residents have to hire a vehicle for R1,500 to take the injured to hospital,” she said.
Cele, who was accompanied by National Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola and Eastern Cape Commissioner Lt-General Nomthetheleli Mene said that according to police statistics, alcohol was the biggest contributor to crime.
Previously Cele had promised to provide five more cars for the Bhityi police station. Two had already been delivered. Another two were delivered on Saturday.
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane admitted that crime had reached crisis levels in Mthatha and some of its surrounding areas.
“It cost the government about R8-million to deploy a specialised unit for three months to fight crime in Bhityi,” Mabuyane said.
AbaThembu Chief Mfundo Bhovulengwe Mtirara said more than 190 illegal firearms had been confiscated when a specialised police unit was sent to fight crime in the area but to this day, not a single person had been arrested and prosecuted.
“Sometimes people no longer report crime because they fear they will be killed. We ask for reservists for the Bhityi police station.”
Community safety MEC Xolile Nqatha promised residents a regional court.
“The Bhityi periodical court will be improved to a regional court and will sit at least four times a week to fast-track cases,” he promised residents.
Pictured above: Bhityi resident airing her grievances during the premier’s imbizo at Great Place in Mthatha.
Image source: EC Premier’s office