The ‘cop shops’ are talk shops, my China
It is causing a stir on social media, but contrary to what Julius Malema and others believe, Chinese communities in South Africa have not taken the law into their own hands.
New Chinese “police stations” – one of which has just opened in Port Elizabeth – are in fact community centres working together with policing forums.
Such forums are established to improve communication and relations between the police and the Chinese-speaking community, a spokesperson for the centre said on Wednesday.
The furore arose when Twitter “celebrity” ‘Man’s Not Barry Roux’ – who has more than 460,000 followers – tweeted on Tuesday that Chinese people were now opening police stations in South Africa.
He wrote: “Now Chinese are opening their own police stations in South Africa, they have already opened 13 & this one was opened yesterday in PE.”
Many people responded. EFF leader Julius Malema exclaimed: “He Banna” [what the hell!].
Some asked who had authorised the “police stations”.
The Twitter post included a photograph of Eastern Cape provincial commissioner LtGen Liziwe Ntshinga and Chinese dignitaries.
An account belonging to a Twitter user using the handle Queen Nandi [@n_sineyi] said she had had her ID “satisfied” [certified] at the centre.
Her post fuelled the fire even further.
Jie Lee Zhang, CEO of the Chinese Community and Police Co-operation Centre, chuckled at the post, saying his organisation was far from taking over the police, as it would be unconstitutional.
Speaking from the group’s Newton Park office, Zhang said the office would become “the middleman” between SA government departments and Chinese-speaking people in South Africa.
“There is a lot of confusion because of the lack of understanding and information created by a certain group [with] their own agenda,” he said.
“We had two functions on Sunday [October 28], the first [being] the grand opening of the new Chinese Community and Police Co-operation Centre in Nelson Mandela [Bay].
“The second was the opening of the 3rd term Chinese language training programme through the SAPS, which started in 2016, at the SAPS Training Centre in Bird Street.”
Zhang said this programme was a co-operative initiative that offered training in basic Mandarin so that Chinese citizens in this country and South Africans could have a better understanding of each other.
“We have people [speaking] English and Mandarin, so in any matter that [affects] Chinese people, we can give assistance.”
The training programme was also aimed at the metro police, the municipal and provincial traffic services and community policing forums.
Police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni dismissed claims that the police were receiving police training from the Chinese.
He said this programme would ensure better communication between police officers and Chinese nationals.
“This is the third year that this training is running.
“It is an intervention by the Chinese Embassy, the SAPS and business people from China.”
According to Tonjeni, training sessions in the province began in Chinese restaurants in Port Elizabeth and East London three years ago.
The centre just opened would provide a space for learning.
The initiative arose from the fact that when Chinese citizens wanted to report crimes, there was a language barrier.
A simple form of Mandarin was taught to police working with the public.
“[They are] taught basic vocabulary to help them understand when Mandarin speakers come to lay [complaints] at the police station.”