Poor leadership blamed for Mid-Illovo’s neglected police stations

2014-07-22 00:00

A POLICING precinct with two stations — that spans nearly 850 square kilometres between Durban and Pietermaritzburg — has one police car.

In an area where the murder rate has soared over 150% in two years, the Mid-Illovo police station and the satellite post of Nhlazuka have been crippled by ailing infrastructure and underfunding.

The forgotten police stations have become almost redundant, with the community they serve turning to private security for protection following a spate of violent farm attacks.

The murder rate in the area almost doubled between 2012 and last year, according to police statistics.

The Witness can reveal:

• Between the two stations only one police car is in use, the others gathering dust in the police’s workshop.

• The Nhlazuka police station, in a government complex opened six years ago, does not have running water.

• The satellite station has only one officer on duty per shift.

Justice Project chairperson Howard Dembovsky said the “disaster” pointed to poor leadership.

“This is obviously a disaster, given the fact that 850 square kilometres simply cannot be properly policed on foot. It can only be attributed to poor management,” he said.

He said a new broom was needed to sweep clean.

“All that’s really required to sort this mess out is to get rid of the poor management and deploy those who have proven their ability to manage and trouble-shoot to sort these problems out,” Dembovsky added.

Institute for Security Studies researcher Dr Johan Burger said the absence of solid and efficient management at many police stations remains an ongoing concern.

“Many of the problems of the police are the direct result of a breakdown in command and control and a lack of supervision in certain areas. In most instances poor service delivery, maladministration, ill-discipline and corruption have at its core the lack of supervision and control,” he said, quoting a police advisory council report from 2008.

“ [Police Minister] Nathi Nhleko revealed that the police spent R150 million in the last five years in wasteful and irregular expenditure. In one year alone they wasted R45 million on meals and accommodation.

“This is money that could have been used to improve capacity for maintenance of vehicles, buildings and equipment,” Burger added.

DA spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison Rishigen Viranna said that a visit to the Mid-Illovo station revealed the parlous state of the police.

He said corrugated-iron holding cells were declared inhumane, closed and never replaced. Any prisoner detained has to be held as far away as Pietermaritzburg.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said: “We acknowledge receipt of your enquiry and will respond when the information is available.”

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za


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