Where are the cops?

2015-08-05 12:12
Pietermaritzburg SAPS spokesperson Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese points to the small precinct the Bishopstowe Police Station covers.

Pietermaritzburg SAPS spokesperson Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese points to the small precinct the Bishopstowe Police Station covers. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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AFTER only one policeman was left to staff the Bishopstowe police station over the weekend, questions about understaffing there have been raised by concerned locals who thought the police station had been deserted.

The station was allegedly manned by a single policeman over Saturday and Sunday after two other SAPS members on duty had called in sick.

The station’s phone lines have been down since June and three police officers were transferred from Bishopstowe to other stations in Pietermaritzburg.

A police source, who could not be named, said three police members per shift was too little to manage the Bishopstowe and Table Mountain precinct.

The community has also complained of police delays in getting to scenes in Bishopstowe, which they believe is a direct result of the transfers.

A resident, who would not be named for fear of victimisation, said her house was broken into last week.

“I called the station at 3 am and a policeman attended to the matter at 4.10 am. He told me that the station was busy and the other vehicle was out, which was why he arrived an hour later.”

Residents have complained about a recent spike in violent crimes in the small farming community.

In April this year, a man was stabbed twice in the chest and shoulder with a screw driver when an unknown man entered a Bishopstowe couple’s property.

The man, who would not be named, said it was a traumatic experience because the two police officers who attended the scene ended up shooting at each other in error with one policeman sustaining a gunshot wound to the leg and stomach.

However, Pietermaritzburg SAPS spokesperson Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese said the small community had been overstaffed with police before the transfer of the three policemen from Bishopstowe to other stations.

“There are five stations in the Mountain Rise cluster that are undermanned, but Bishopstowe is not one of them.

“Bishopstowe police station is fully manned and fully functional. Three staff members were transferred to other stations for them to be at full strength,” said Ngobese.

“Bishopstowe is a very small community and we know people may not be happy that they have been moved but we cannot have police sitting around with nothing to do when they can go somewhere that they are needed.”

Ngobese said that of the police moved, two were constables, and that the Bishopstowe station was in capable hands.

He said Mountain Rise Cluster ­Commander Major-General Lucas ­Ngubeni ordered that a community ­policing forum be established to cover the Bishopstowe community.

He added that a mobile unit had been sent to the Mqonqo community hall in Table Mountain to assist the residents there with opening case dockets and to write affidavits.

“The mobile unit is accessible to the community and is in contact with ­Bishopstowe so if a van is needed in ­Table Mountain, it can be called for by the officer on duty.”

Head of the security desk of KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) Koos Marais said although the Bishopstowe community was small, it was a concern that there were only three ­policemen per shift to man the farming area.

“We need visible policing in rural ­areas and we insist on it,” said Marais.

“It is understood that crime is higher in other areas, however, three policemen per shift is a concern.”

He added that the community should register their complaints with the cluster commander or with Kwanalu who he said would be happy to assist in any issues the farmers in Bishopstowe may have

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  police  |  saps

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