Skinny thief gives ‘full-figured’ cop the slip in pipe

2010-09-15 00:00

PRETORIA — A fit and slender mugger managed to evade Metro Police yesterday by escaping in an underground stormwater drain next to the Walkerspruit in Sunnyside here.

The thief had stolen a 59-year-old man’s money in Spuy Street before disappearing in the water pipe.

SA Police Force and Metro Police officers were soon at the scene, but by that time the thief had crawled far into the pipe.

Members of the Metro Police and their dogs tried to follow the thief into the water pipe, but were soon forced to turn back because the pipe became too narrow for their “fuller figures”, as one officer described it at the scene.

Residents of the area said the mugger must have crawled about a kilometre to escape.

The victim was very upset that his attacker had fled with the money, but didn’t want to comment.

A police officer at the scene said the pipe was too small for theMetro Police. “You can see for yourself that they’re big,” he added.

Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Monday there is no longer a place in the police force for lazy and fat police officials.

He said overweight officers will have to “shape up or ship out”.

Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele told Parliament yesterday that the SA Police Force has sacrificed quality for quantity as its ranks swelled by more than 60 000 officers in the past nine years.

Cele said the rush of new recruits and the common perception that the police are the last resort for those who fail at everything else have lowered standards.

“You don’t get the cream. You get the worst of that. We’ve been a zama zama (try your luck) organisation,” he told Parliament’s portfolio committee on police during a briefing by top brass on training problems.

“We have not been big on quality, we have been big on quantity. People have been thrown in by chasing quantity rather than quality.”

The police’s ranks grew from 131 000 in 2000 to 195 000, Cele said, adding that he is well aware of poor training and discipline.

However, it is hard to reverse the decline because no part of the force could be shut down for an overhaul.

“We are fixing the aeroplane that is in flight. We can’t park the SA police,” Cele said.

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