The delivery of police services has been severely affected due to a lack of adequate police vehicles to provide necessary visible policing due to the contract entered by the National Treasury and WesBank, which has resulted in a complicated vehicle repairs model.
The National Treasury entered a contract with Wesbank on behalf of the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the maintenance and repairs of most SAPS vehicles. Wesbank took the responsibility of vehicle maintenance and repairs away from the SAPS garages.
This has created backlogs for simple repairs of up to 500 days in some cases. This not only puts the safety of the residents at risk but adds to the frustration and staff morale of the police officers to conduct visible policing and detective services.
According to some police stations, the WesBank contract allows for 30 days to access a breakdown and three months to appoint a service provider to fix the vehicle that must then still be assessed afterwards. This means that the police vehicles will be out of commission for months on end, and in some cases, tyres and wheels are stolen from parked vehicles even before work can be done on police vehicles.
In addition, 24 mechanic artisan posts have been vacant at the SAPS garages since 2016 that could have been used to repair the broken police vehicles.
This was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, in a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).
According to MEC Mazibuko, there are 16 SAPS garages in Gauteng, 205 mechanics in all the garages and 24 mechanic artisan posts that have been vacant since 2016.
It is unacceptable that the vacant mechanic posts have not been filled for almost six years. This has also resulted in police vehicles that are sent for repairs being kept at these garages for a long time due to a lack of an adequate number of mechanics to fix them. There is also too much workload for these mechanics due to unfilled vacancies.
This is greatly impacting the ability of police officers to provide visible policing to protect residents and prevent crime as vehicles sent for repairs are not returned to their respective police stations timeously.
This is quite harrowing considering that many mechanic graduates are sitting at home unemployed, yet the SAPS is sitting with 24 vacancies that can help change and better the lives of our people.
We believe the Department of Community Safety must review its contract with WesBank as it may be the main reason for the backlog in vehicle maintenance and repairs.
The safety of Gauteng residents is of utmost importance for the DA hence we demand that MEC Mazibuko and the Gauteng SAPS Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, must liaise with their national counterpart Minister of Police, Bheki Cele to ensure that these mechanic posts are filled as a matter of urgency. Shortage of police vehicles is a major challenge affecting many of our police stations.
This is one of many reasons why Minister Bheki Cele must go, he continues to fail our people due to his incompetency. The DA will continue to use all the mechanisms at our disposal in all spheres of government to force the President to fire Minister Cele as he is compromising the safety of our people and a danger to society.