Gang flees with firearms after holding up police station

2009-12-03 00:00

A CHRONICALLY understaffed police station in KwaZulu-Natal was robbed of seven firearms at the weekend when an armed gang held up the lone officer on duty.

A high-ranking officer in the Swartberg precinct in southern KZN, who did not want to be named, shifted the blame for the robbery to the provincial office, saying the station is suffering from crippling staff shortages. He said the provincial office has been informed of the situation on numerous occasions, but did nothing.

“There used to be three people per shift,” said the source, “but that number has dramatically decreased as we have been struggling with vacancies since 2005.

“On the day of the incident, there were supposed to have been two officers on duty. However, the other was on stand-by because he was not feeling well.”

Another inside source at the Swartberg police station said state equipment has been at risk for many years as there are too few police there.

“When the incident occurred, there was only one policeman. Even at the barracks, there was no one,” said the source.

KZN Agricultural Union’s Koos Marais expressed the organisation’s concern about the robbery, saying that if criminals can so easily target a police station, the community is in an even more vulnerable position.

“The station is severely short staffed, which raises many questions about its ability to perform its tasks,” said Marais.

Provincial police spokesman Vincent Mdunge confirmed the armed robbery.

He said the police are hoping to make arrests soon as an elite investigating team has been assigned to the case.

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