Residents are unable to reach the Silverton police station during emergencies because the phone lines have been down since November.
DA Gauteng Community Safety spokesperson Michael Shackleton said it was of concern that the station’s landlines were not functioning.
He said residents were told to use the 10111 number to contact the station. This meant that the calls went straight to the SAPS Call Centre in Midrand which would then contact the police station to which the complaint was directed or the nearest flying squad vehicle.
“The calls to 10111 unnecessarily increase call volumes to what is supposed to be an emergency line that requires a quick response and should not be clogged with administration requests,” Shackleton said.
This process was time-consuming, particularly in the case of an emergency as there was usually a prompt response when the police station was contacted directly, Shackleton said.
“However, this raises serious questions as to how the main control unit is able to contact the Silverton police station since the landline doesn’t work.”
Shackleton said the landlines were a crucial form of communication between the police and residents, hence it was unacceptable for a police station to function without them.
Crime activist Yusuf Abramjee said lines at police stations often did not work.
“It’s a real worry. Yes, 10111 is the alternative, but this number also has its problems.”
He said they often received complaints about poor service.
“Long delays in answering, dropped calls, poor communication. The SAPS needs to sort out the mess as this is life-threatening,” said Abramjee.
The 10111 call centre had also been impeded by limited staff, which meant it could not cope when lines went off at stations and calls got through to them.
SA Police Union chief negotiator Barries Barnard said there were not enough workers to cope with the influx of calls, which in instances such as the Silverton one would see higher volumes due to residents not being able to call the station directly.
Police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza said it was not true that the lines were not working at all.
“We had a challenge, they would at times go on and off due to the rolling blackouts caused by load shedding.
“There was a challenge because a part of the switchboard burnt during load shedding, but it has been fixed.”