Eastern Cape police forced to buy food for prisoners

By Drum Digital
04 August 2015

They to avoid arresting petty criminals and release suspects on warning because police stations could not feed them.

Eastern Cape police officers reportedly admitted to avoiding arresting petty criminals and releasing suspects on warning because police stations could not feed them.

Times Live reported that police officers are forced to buy food for prisoners with their own money or to transfer detainees to other stations because of breakdown in funding.

Funds have been lacking for more than a month, but police management reportedly said they had taken action and blamed hiccups in procurement processes.

16 stations are known to be in a cash crisis with figures possibly far higher. These include Addo, Despatch, Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Bay.

Kareedouw police officers reportedly confirmed that they were transferring detainees to avoid having to feed them.

"We transport all our prisoners to Humansdorp for them to deal with. We then don't have to feed ours," the officers said.

Hankey police officers are reported to have bought meals for people behind bars. "There is no food here for prisoners. The commander has gone to buy food with his money to feed them," an officer said.

Senior police officials said "red tape" in approving providers meant all food supplies had ceased.

Criminologist Rudolph Zinn said that this could result in lawsuits against the police as "It is a violation of human rights to not feed detainees. It has a serious knock-on effect and forces the release of suspects. This means no one gets justice," he said. "If this continues it will lead to a spike in crime as criminals will know they can get away with crime."

Provincial spokesman Brigadier Marinda Mills said: "In the past the provision of meals to detainees in custody was mostly done by local police station tea clubs. In April 2015 the policy changed and instruction was given from our national head office that the normal procurement procedures must be followed for the provision of meals.

"Tea clubs that wanted to continue providing meals were required to register as a service provider and to participate and compete like any other business or institution by means of the prescribed procurement process."

Interim measures are to be put in place.

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