Eastern Cape Police Under-resourced and Dejected, at the Expense of the People

Mount Fletcher Police Station is a sad reflection of the state of policing in this province. The state of police vehicles in the yard of the station, which is not properly fenced, speaks volumes in this regard and the charge office/reception area is easily accessible from the street with no security provision whatsoever. The police station is overrun with sheep, goats, horses and donkeys. The prison transport vehicle licence disc expired years ago and is inoperable.

The main policing challenge is stock theft from the neighbouring Qumbu Region followed by cross- border stock theft. The local officers tried to convince us that they have adequate vehicle and mounted support but there was no evidence to this effect, they also said that the roads are so bad in the region that the biggest challenge is that operational vehicles don’t last long and the 4×4 police van parked outside the charge office, with a current licence disc, has clearly been inoperable for months with grass growing up around it.

Perhaps of greatest obvious concern is the interminable renovation process which started in 2012 and is still far from complete. This clearly affects morale and hampers proper and effective operations. The electricity provision is also not earthed which negatively affects their ability to log on to the SAPS main frame computer service and they have to use routers that are few and far between and unreliable.

These simple matters that remain unattended along with interminable renovations compromise the quality of policing that the community experience. The local traditional leaders informed us that response times are woeful and that there is an alarming increase in armed robberies. They quoted a senior police officer who when asked why their response time was so slow who said, “Yoh those criminals were heavily armed”.

There are no victim empowerment facilities for GBV cases, and the local police station has identified an unused office for this purpose which is wholly unsuitable and is for all intents and purposes simply not fit for any police use let alone for victim empowerment, this is a matter of grave concern, especially in light of the growing prevalence and challenge of GBV.

Lastly, it is a very poor reflection on the kind of policing that is provided by this station and the province that the station has been robbed a number of times and that there are not even burglar guards on the windows. My colleagues and I left the station feeling quite depressed about the state of our police service and we have great empathy for this community that seems to be very vulnerable to a range of violent crimes with very little defense or support from the SAPS.

It is quite obvious from our experience that the SAPS is in dire need of a total command and control overhaul, from the top down to every police station in the province and this should start with the Minister of Police being removed.