South African Police resources have been mismanaged to such a degree that in some precincts police have barely any vehicles to drive to a crime scene.
This alarming state of affairs is not new, although it appears to be worsening.
On February 1st, Katlego Suzan Phala MPL, Democratic Alliance (DA) Provincial Spokesperson for Transport and Community Safety, issued a statement showing the dire situation wherein Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units are unable to attend to serious crimes due to lack of vehicles and resources.
Ms Phala stated that Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is not being prioritised by the SAPS in Limpopo or nationally. Police Minister Bheki Cele had recently revealed that as of 30 December 2021, the FCS units in Limpopo had a collective case load of 6,710 cases.
“These cases will continue to increase given the lack of manpower and resources available to FCS units in Limpopo. The more than 6,000 cases are currently being investigated by only 174 officers with only 88 vehicles at their disposal” Ms Phala stated. “The latest crime statistics revealed that Thohoyandou, Seshego and Mankweng were among the country’s top 30 stations for rape and other sexual offences. Thohoyandou SAPS, which is ranked 3rd nationally, only has 20 officers in its FCS unit. This unit is investigating 1,254 cases with only 9 vehicles at their disposal. Minister Cele’s response also revealed that Mankweng SAPS, ranked 9th nationally, does not even have an FCS unit” she added.
On February 6th, Michael Shackleton MPL , DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Community Safety, issued a statement which showed that Gauteng province alone has 1,169 out-of-service police vehicles, leaving residents vulnerable to crime, and leaving the SAPS unable to provide visibility patrol, detective services and support services.
“A police station unit cannot operate with only one vehicle; in the case of mechanical challenges there will then be no vehicle to use. In addition, there is no specific timeframe as to when the out-of-service vehicles will be repaired and returned to their respective police stations” stated Mr Shackleton.
On February 7th Annette van Wyk, Cllr, Phokwane Municipality, issued a statement saying that currently, a full year after the DA in the Northern Cape asked the SAPS to prioritise the allocation of additional vehicles to Jan Kempdorp, the number of running vehicles has declined further, from 2 to just 1 out of 25 vehicles allocated to the precinct.
Ms van Wyk stated that the affected community is spread over a wide area, including Jan Kempdorp, Pampierstad, Valspan and Ganspan, making it impossible for the police to tend to emergencies or crime scenes. “In some cases, they only arrive four days later, if they even arrive at all” said Ms van Wyk.
She further stated “It is therefore little wonder that crime remains high in this area and that many violent crimes are never resolved. Drug related crimes have also picked up significantly, with no action being taken against known drug dealers. It is also understandable why residents are feeling increasingly unsafe in this area.” The DA has launched a petition in the community, demanding that the vehicle crisis is addressed urgently.
“No one should be denied rapid police response. No one should be denied justice because a crime against them couldn’t be investigated due to mismanagement of police resources” said Ms van Wyk, “it is time to get policing in Jan Kempdorp moving again. We will intensify pressure on the state to fix this and ensure that the matter is also escalated to a provincial and national level.”
Mismanagement of all services within police precincts affects communities and police personnel
Mismanagement of all services within police precincts affects communities and police men and women who want to do their jobs. It allows apathy to set in and can make working conditions untenable. This mismanagement of vehicles and other necessities within police precincts is a state of affairs which is not new.
At the end of 2020, Ofentse Mokae, MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson, issued a statement and included photographs showing the shocking conditions of the Warrenton Police Station.
It showed that all three vehicles at the station were waiting for repairs and had been standing idle for months. “This explains the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) inability to track down culprits of various crimes – they literally have been reduced to office-based administrators” Mr Mokae stated at the time.
The ablution and shower facilities in the holding cells were also not in optimal working condition and it appeared that the holding cells were not cleaned on a regular basis.
The only ablution facility available for the public was not usable.
With rampant crime and public distrust in the police services, this mismanagement and lack of basic resources leaves much to be desired and means that the pressure being put on the South African Government regarding these issues is now crucial to public safety.