9 murders in 5 weeks due to 65% SAPS shortage in Tembisa

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The South African Police Service (SAPS) Station in Tembisa is unable to fulfill its constitutional duty of protecting citizens because there is a 65% shortage in its visible policing capacity.

I was reliably informed of these shortages upon my recent visit to the Tembisa SAPS station, along with DA Councillor Philip Thamahane.

We also learned that there have been seven murders within the precinct in June and that within the first three days of July, two more people have been murdered.

Visible policing is a crucial deterrent to violent crime and it also provides vital reach for SAPS officers who must investigate, pursue and apprehend suspects. Failing to fulfill this function means that the SAPS is in breach of its mandate to protect citizens who cannot protect themselves.

The Tembisa SAPS station has five sectors that should have two visible policing vehicles patrolling at any given time, with two police officers in each vehicle. The station therefore needs 20 police officers for this purpose.

The visible policing unit also staffs the client service office, where people go to lay charges. At least eight officers should be on duty at this office, at any given time.

Given the above requirements, visible policing at the Tembisa SAPS station needs at least 28 police officers per shift. However, the reality is a bleak picture. The actual number of officers on duty per shift is as follows:

• Shift one has only 10 officers on duty, with a shortage of 18 officers.
• Shift two has only 10 officers on duty, with a shortage 18 officers.
• Shift three has only 10 officers on duty, with a shortage of 18 officers.
• Shift four only has 9 officers on duty, which means a shortage 19 officers.

The situation worsens when one takes sick leave and annual leave into account.

The Minister of Police and the National Commissioner must take full responsibility for the high crime rate and the chronic lack of police officers to prevent it. The residents of Tembisa deserve better police protection and their precinct must be urgently resourced.

Failing to provide adequate policing is an affront on our constitutional right to safety and security.

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