A long-awaited satellite police station was opened at uMlazi’s crime-ridden Glebelands Hostel on Friday afternoon and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said thugs at the sprawling complex would now have no place to hide.
Housing an estimated 22,000 residents, Glebelands has been linked to political murders and experiences high rates of violent crime, with community activists telling the Moerane Commission investigating political killings in the province that the squalid complex is a haven for hitmen that operate throughout KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are ready for them, wherever they are and whatever they do, they must know that there is no community in South Africa that will be terrorised by criminals,” said Mbalula.
Arriving over an hour late, Mbalula was greeted by a praise singer before he started speaking. In what has now become his norm, the minister interspersed his speech with expletives and bravado.
“This police station, working with our people, we must squeeze the space for criminals. We must make it unbearable, we must not make it easy for them,” he said.
Some Glebelands residents were seated in the official, shaded area along with a phalanx of police, but many peered curiously from the hill above the station.
The police needed to respect communities, Mbalula bellowed, and when Glebelands residents reported crimes, they should be treated as “genuine complainants and victims”, he said, adding that it was up to a court of law to decide the rest.
“You walk into this station as a victim but walk out as a survivor,” he said.
“Women especially must feel comfortable to speak about their ordeals, abuse, rape and all acts of discrimination,” he said.
It was his intention, said Mbalula, to work with the national commissioner on an already announced turnaround strategy that would see police respond to situations “accordingly” and ensure that tactical response was “up to scratch”.
“We will also be using technology to ensure that in places like Glebelands our policing is actually upgraded,” he said.
Fighting crime was the responsibility of the police and communities, he said.
“But we need you to work with the police. This station reinforces existing stations, but it brings policing resources closer to the people,” he said.
The station is housed in a municipal building on the Glebelands property and is receiving free electricity and water supply from eThekwini.
There were delays in opening the station because it had to be properly secured for staff and have CCTV cameras installed, according to acting provincial police commissioner, major general Bhekinkosi Langa.