EASTERN Cape emergency services and law enforcement officials will intensify operations from next week as they prepare for the holiday season. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and national commissioner General Riah Phiyega are expected to launch the national operation plan for all nine provinces – Safer Festive Season: Operation Duty Calls – today.
While Eastern Cape police refused to comment on their plans, saying only that they would announce "safety hints and tips" at a briefing in Mthatha next week, The Herald has seen documents detailing the seven- phase plan effective from October 15 to January 31.
The document stipulates that the focus be on stabilising the country in preparation for the 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) and other national events.
The plan is to align all police roadblocks with the provincial Arrive Alive campaigns. Authorities must focus on unroadworthy vehicles, the transportation of illegal firearms and dangerous weapons, wanted criminals, land and border patrols and a range of other crimes.
The SANDF – navy, air force and army – have also been tasked to assist only when needed and will help police with stop-and-search, air support and maritime operations.
Coastal Water Rescue spokesman John Fletcher said all emergency services – including the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and municipal lifesavers – were working and training together to ensure a fast response to any water emergency.
Fletcher said that starting this weekend, his unit – and other water-related emergency services – would be on high alert for the anticipated holiday season rush.
"Our high alert period starts from this weekend, but we are only expecting an increase in rescues from mid-November when the beaches start getting busy," he said.
Nelson Mandela Bay traffic officials have been testing their response times by undergoing a series of drills. Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said all role-players – including the fire and traffic department, disaster management, police, defence force and other emergency services – would be ready to deal with any situation.
"Traffic officers will focus on a few set strategies including drunk driving, speeding and the confiscation of unroadworthy vehicles," he said.
"Our 24-hour control room will be running at full strength as well as the CCTV cameras in full operation."
Senior officials at the provincial Department of Transport said the Arrive Alive Campaign would only be launched later this month or in November as the plans were only going to be shown to MEC Thandiswa Marawu next Friday. Marawu's spokesman, Ncedo Kumbaca, was unavailable for comment.
John Preller, chairman of the Beachfront Safety Forum, said he was confident the season would kick off without a hitch.
"The police and other law enforcement authorities say that they will increase foot patrols, put officers on bikes and scooters on the road to patrol the tourist hotspots. The mounted unit and other safety and security personnel will also join in to ensure that holidaymakers are kept safe," he said.
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism spokesman Titus Chuene said they were expecting a busy, incident-free season with several events, including the Rugby Sevens tournament.