Storm brews over SAPS ‘tea club’

2015-06-21 06:19
Jail bars. (File photo, AP)

Jail bars. (File photo, AP)

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Durban - A storm in a teacup – or rather a storm over a tea club – is brewing at the Babanango Police Station in Zululand in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

SA Police Service (SAPS) members, who want to remain anonymous as they are not authorised to speak to the media, said at issue is the “voluntary donation” of R30 to R50 a month they are “forced” to make to feed detainees at the station.

Suspects arrested in the remote area are often held in the cells for several days while they await court dates or are moved to the department of correctional services prison at Eshowe.

Members say while the contributions are not statutory, they have been ordered to pay up or face the consequences. They say the situation is the result of a station commander failing to put through the proper paperwork for detainee feeding to the SAPS provincial headquarters.

“The station commander is a dictator and takes advice from no one,” said a member in a letter to City Press. “He demanded that all members pay R30 up to R50 to the Babanango tea club.

“However this tea club is an SAPS feeding scheme for detainees. All those who do not pay will face disciplinary charges. We are tired of buying food for detainees with our money, which is supposed to support our families. This has never happened at this station before.”

A second officer said the problem started in January last year after the budget for detainee feeding was submitted late to provincial headquarters.

“Since January 2014, members from the Babanango Police Station are forced to feed detainees from their own pockets. Documents were submitted late at the KZN provincial offices after the due date had long passed,” said the officer.

“Now it has become a problem for the investigating officer or the relief commander to buy food for every arrested person.

“Sometimes, when police members do not have money, detainees starve and spend the night hungry. Most times, the detainees will buy food from their own pocket, which is a violation of their constitutional rights.”

He claimed occurrence book entries (the documentation of everything that takes place at the station from shift changes to feeding to detainees) had been forged to cover up the fact that detainees had not been fed. He said complaints had been laid at provincial and cluster level.

“The prescribed standard food menu is not adhered to at this station. Detainees are forced to eat brown bread or vetkoek bought by police officials from their own pocket,” he said.

“The cells are dirty and have no hot water. Blankets are also dirty and haven’t been washed for almost three years. The station commander does not care at all.”

Attempts to secure a comment from the station commander were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

SAPS spokesperson Thulani Zwane had not responded to calls and emailed questions about the situation at the station at the time of going to print.
Read more on:    saps  |  pietermaritzburg  |  durban

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