The DA's visit to the Boitekong and Phokeng police stations in the North West province today showed a reflection of the common picture of severe under-resourcing that exists at station level around South Africa in general and the Boitekong station in particular.
The Boitekong police station operates in an area with a very high murder rate and insufficient rural safety, and is increasingly struggling to police the precinct in the context of growing informal settlements and extreme poverty.
Our main observations of the Boitekong police station were that:
· It is clearly overdue for expansion and upgrade, having been upgraded from a satellite station to a fully-fledged station in 1992;
· There is abundant use of prefabricated units and containers as extra office and storage space; and
· It is an 'urban-rural mix' station that has not fully implemented the South African Police Service (SAPS) Rural Safety Strategy as has been claimed by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, especially in staffing terms.
With as many as 66 people murdered during the last year, there was an average of one person murdered every week in this community of 80 000. The highest murder rate in the North West is experienced in the area serviced by the under-resourced Boitekong police station.
The under-training, under-staffing, under-resourcing and under-equipping (the 4 U's) of the SAPS at station level has exacerbated the difficulty faced by the police to bring down the murder rate.
This crisis has been deepened by inadequate support from Crime Intelligence in addressing the organised crime elements of the high crime levels.
Only Mbalula has the power to fix the resource allocation in the police portfolio so that we can address the 4 U's at station level.
Mbalula must urgently redirect his efforts from his Twitter universe and ministerial overreach in operational matters of the National Police Commissioner to adequately training, staffing, resourcing and equipping the SAPS.
Zakhele Mbhele MP
DA Shadow Minister of Police