Problems crash Gqeberha 10111 emergency line

Loadshedding, staff shortages and a fire leave residents furious at slow police response

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The emergency call centre in Gqeberha has been plagued with problems. Photo: Joseph Chirume

  • The police emergency call centre in Gqeberha is still not operating after a fire on 27 October.
  • Residents say even before the fire it did not operate properly.
  • The provincial MEC has blamed failures on shortages of staff and vehicles.
  • The provincial police spokesperson says loadshedding is a problem.

Loadshedding, staff and vehicle shortages, and then a fire which gutted one of the computers: the police emergency call centre in Gqeberha has been plagued with problems.

On Thursday the 10111 line was still not operating after the fire of 27 October

But even before the fire, residents said, the centre was not fully operational. They said their calls were either not answered, or answered after a long time and that police often failed to come to crime scenes when they were needed.

Carmen Saffier of Bloemendal recently appealed for help on Facebook after she said the call centre had failed to respond to her call about an intruder in the yard. Saffier wrote on the page, “Good evening, can anyone please call the police for me because this is serious and they’re not answering the phone but according to control room they got the complaint but the perpetrator is getting away as we speak. Help me please.”

Charmelle Mella Welcome responded, “I tried last week and then again few days ago. Eventually got through and up to now still waiting for a van. Pathetic I tell you.”

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana blamed loadshedding for the poor performance of the call centre.

He told GroundUp, “Loadshedding is currently a major challenge as our telephone system takes up to 45 minutes after loadshedding to restart.

“Since September 2022, loadshedding caused the centre’s Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to not function anymore, causing the Global Emergency Command & Control Center system (GEMC3) to also not work and therefore all calls received had to be dealt with on a manual system.”

In response to a question in the provincial legislature on 7 October, Eastern Cape MEC for Community Safety Xolile Nqatha acknowledged there were several problems. “Absenteeism in the form of members booking off sick is also a huge contribution and it is being addressed on a regular basis. Due to absenteeism, the centre which has 24 incoming 10111 lines, at times only has two or three call takers logged on for calls

“Insufficient manpower is also a challenge. When all members are back on shifts and there is no absenteeism we only have six people to answer the 10111 calls. If one of the dispatchers needs to go on a lunch break, then another call taker must stand in.”

Nqatha said the centre had 71 staff working on a shift basis. “The call centre needs more manpower especially for 10111 lines.”

Nqatha attributed the slow response of police to crime scenes to the lack of sufficient vehicles.

“If stations have only two vehicles on the air for complaints and both are at scenes, such as a shooting incident or murder, the centre can’t dispatch any complaints until the vehicles are done at the scenes.”

“Residents are angry because police always respond late or never come at all,” said Maria Peters of the Schauderville-Korsten Crime Patrol group. “The 10111 centre can take hours to respond to calls. The police are failing us.”

Police spokesperson Captain Sandra Janse Van Rensburg said while the 10111 line was not operating after the fire, communities should contact their local police stations for emergency response.

But the chairman of the Motherwell Police Station Community Policing Forum, Siphiwo Mbolekwa told GroundUp that the response by the police station was appalling.

Mbolekwa said: “Vans take long to arrive at crime scenes. There is a shortage of vans at Motherwell Police Station because some are being repaired but I am informed that management is looking into the issue.”

But Janse van Rensburg said there were sufficient police vehicles in Nelson Mandela Bay.

TOPICS:  Policing

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