The Rural Mobile Community Service Centre was established in 2001 in Thohoyandou. The Limpopo Province of South Africa has a population of 5 million, 89% of whom live in rural areas. As many of these areas are remote and inaccessible, maintaining law and order in them is difficult. The SAPS (Provincial) together with the Local Government, the MEC for Safety and Security and the Dept of Home Affairs (Provincial) established what could best be described as a police station of wheels. The aim is to reduce crime, create a sense of security and re-establish confidence between the community and the police.
Innovation: This is a response to a situation where geographical conditions are not conducive to conventional policing methods. The police visit 5 villages with a total population of around 9000 people on pre-arranged dates. They appear to make at least one visit per month. Once there they offer visible policing, carry out crime prevention, victim empowerment, open case dockets and when possible, arrest suspects. They use 2 vehicles - a 4X4 and a Canter, which has a holding cell for suspects. The police also inform the community on how to approach safety and security issues.
Effectiveness: They have dealt with a number of illegal activities. Tribal leaders in neighbouring villages view this project favourably and would like to be included in the project.
Poverty Impact: Fourteen vehicles were built to date at a cost of R620 000. The money was procured through sponsorships, which resulted in job creation as small black businesses were contracted to complete the vehicles. The vehicles, servicing hundreds of thousands of people reached 50 villages per month. With a 48% unemployment rate, to access policing services took an entire day and twenty rand expense for the community people.
Sustainability: The project has been a success for two years. The vehicles will be sustained by the SAPS budget. The vehicles were procured from the SAP scrap-yard. The demolished vehicles were repaired at a cost of R50 000 per vehicle. Provision has been made from the SAPS budget to pay for maintenance and all associated costs. The last amount to be received from DFID was R500 000 to develop ten vehicles.
Replication: Many provinces have shown an interest in this project. It is cheap, cost effective and most of all it improves service delivery to the most marginalized population in the rural areas where the services is most needed. Any province can learn from this experience and implement this. The project was started for police services only. A next phase makes provision for Health, Welfare and Home Affairs to form an integrated service.