Central SAPS’ response time questioned

Some Cape Town residents have said that Cape Town SAPS officers do not respond to calls of distress after 6pm.

A Higgovale resident and former Oranjezicht and Higgovale Neighbourhood Watch member Sandra Steyn is concerned about the time it takes Central police station to respond to calls, especially around their 6pm shift change.

Ms Steyn said that after she recently experienced an attempted burglary which her neighbours had alerted her to, she contacted ADT, as previous attempts to contact SAPS received no response.

“There was an alleged perpetrator trying to get into my garage and residents tried taking pictures of the guy trying to get in and he ran away. I called the supervisor at ADT and he said to me that in the past year the call out time at SAPS has been appalling, it will take SAPS three to four hours to come out if you’re lucky.

“(People at the) community centre agreed and said that they especially don’t come out around 6pm. It’s alarming that different sources all said the same thing. What if we have a potential murder and SAPS does not respond,” said Ms Steyn.

CPF chairman Mark Truss said that there normally are some delays at SAPS at 6pm due to a shift change, however, he said that residents aren’t aware that SAPS works with organisations such as the CPF and armed response to fill the gap.

“Most people contact us and we respond to facilitate a quicker response and SAPS responds later. They should be the first to respond and we have raised this issue but they understand they have a problem and are trying to remedy the problem from within.

“Members of the public aren’t familiar with the process, they think that if they pick up the phone SAPS will be there, but we aren’t in that scenario. We try to bolster the response time with our vehicles and strengthen the bond between us because we have a common goal,” said Mr Truss.

Mr Truss said that there are other issues that hinder SAPS from responding fast such as traffic at 6pm, being short of staff or receiving more call out then they can handle.

Oranjezicht and Higgovale Neighbourhood Watch (OHNW) chairman, JJ Pennett said that SAPS is not always readily available because they are understaffed at times and do not have all services available.

“It’s a staffing issue. We adjust to fill out between the two of us. To say SAPS isn’t doing anything is not the case. We are aware that there is a lag during shift change and the harsh reality is that criminals are aware of this too.

“The lag is understandable during a shift change. The onus is on the community to look after the space,” said Mr Pennett.

Central SAPS communication spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, said that SAPS always respond to calls they receive and explained that SAPS work with their partners who are law enforcement, the Central City Improvement District (CCID) and security companies to curb crime in the city.

“Our response time is 15 minutes to a complaint, this is the time in which we give feedback on complaints and what is happening. We have to give reason why a complaint is not managed. When things are hectic in town and there is congestion, we rely on a partner closest to the complaint,” said Captain October.

Captain October said that SAPS have not received any recent complaint regarding their response time and said that officers would go off parade to address a complaint that is serious.

SAPS is in direct contact with their partners who can also be reached when an urgent emergency arises.

ADT district manager, Jade Hanning, recommends that residents keep the contact details for their community watch organisations and security companies on speed dial, so that they can be called in any emergency.