When cops can't protect themselves: MP wants extra security at stations
Perimeter fencing‚ security gates and CCTV cameras must be installed at high-risk police stations‚ a parliamentarian said on Friday‚ in the wake of another attack on a police facility‚ this time at Eesterus east of Pretoria.
Police reacted swiftly to the vandalism and theft at the police client service centre on Thursday evening‚ arresting 12 suspects in connection with the attack by Friday morning.
The community invasion of the police station came during a service delivery protest‚ which has been ongoing since Tuesday. Another four suspects have been arrested by the special team set up the SAPS to quell the rioting.
At parliament‚ the chairperson of the portfolio committee on police‚ Francois Beukman‚ condemned the attack and said the police must take the necessary steps to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to book.
“Anarchy in the name of community protest cannot be allowed. Any attack on a law enforcement location is an attack on the constitutional order and should be dealt with accordingly‚” said Beukman.
Crime-combating and support for victims of crime is at stake in areas where police come under attack‚ Beukman reminded communities.
He said: "It is again that local community that will suffer if the police infrastructure is destroyed since resources cannot be reallocated from other priority areas. There is a duty on communities and community leaders to speak out against the attacks on law enforcement officers and police stations."
Earlier this year‚ five police officers were killed in a brazen‚ violent attack on a police station in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape.
Last week in Gauteng‚ four policewomen on duty - including one carrying a firearm - tamely handed over the key to the safe and the cells when confronted by two men. They escaped with a R5 rifle and two empty R5 magazines. Beukman urged police management to implement the necessary security measures at high risk police stations‚ including perimeter fencing‚ security gates and CCTV-cameras.
In addition‚ he said it is critical‚ from an operational perspective‚ for the SAPS to deploy a rapid response team to any police station that comes under attack.
Gauteng police provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange said earlier on Friday the SAPS had set up a special team to probe the attack on the police station in Eesterust‚ and to quell the vandalism in the area which began on Tuesday.
"During a joint intelligence-driven operation premised on the 72-hour reaction plan‚ 12 suspects were arrested and successfully linked to the crime scene; while a 13th suspect was arrested for possession of dagga‚ and an additional 3 for possession of stolen property relating to items possibly stolen when criminals looted shops during the service delivery protest on Wednesday‚" said De Lange.
"A computer set and plasma television have been recovered. The operation will continue pending the recovery of the rest of the property stolen from the Eesterust Client Service Centre‚ and possibly more arrests."
Police are still in pursuit of the suspected residents who stole a firearm from the client centre.
"Police will work around the clock to ensure that all missing items are recovered‚ particularly the service firearm‚" said De Lange.
"Next is for our investigators to work towards ensuring prosecutable cases with convictions that would ultimately serve as deterrents to anyone else who has plans to undermine the authority of the State‚" the Provincial Commissioner added.