Gauteng rapid response unit canned

2010-09-07 22:44

Johannesburg - Not even the pleading of members on Tuesday could save the Gauteng police's rapid response unit from being disbanded.

Lieutenant General Mzwandile Petros, the new provincial chief of police, reportedly disbanded the unit - which was established about two years ago to provide a faster response to violent crimes - because he is simply "a flying squad and dog unit man".

Several members of the rapid response unit were informed on Tuesday at the A W Muller Stadium in Brixton, Johannesburg, that the unit is being disbanded and that they must report to the flying squad from Monday.

This also follows a decision that the police's flying squad, rapid response and dog units will be patrolling only highways from now on, and not suburbs.

Beeld reported on Saturday that this order comes from the police's provincial office and will result in far fewer police officials - only those on office (local police station) level - responding to complaints in suburbs.

A member of the rapid response unit said on Tuesday that they begged and pleaded for the unit not to be disbanded.

"The sad thing is that he (Petros) didn't even look at our successes.

"He simply said he's more of a flying squad man. He didn't give any reasons, and didn't even have the guts to tell us himself," said the member.

According to him, the approximately 70 members of the unit will now have to join their nearest flying squad units.

"We don't mind joining them. We even said they can change the name to the Gauteng flying squad.

"We just didn't want to lose the group and the bond between us. Now we have to work with the people who were our competition.

"We were responsible for the decline in ATM bombings and cash-in-transit heists in the province," said the member.

Gauteng police spokesperson Govindsamy Mariemuthoo could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.