PMB station in failures list

2016-03-07 13:26
(File, Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(File, Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - A Pietermaritzburg police station has been named among 63 precincts countrywide with the most unsolved serious and violent crimes.

The findings have prompted action from the national police service management to assist Plessislaer police station, along with 10 other affected KZN precincts: Durban Central, Umlazi, Empangeni, Chatsworth, Inanda, Greenwood Park, Mariannhill, Phoenix, Pinetown and Melmoth.

Earlier this year, as part of their Back to Basics approach to fighting crime, national police management whipped together a list of 63 stations where issues of under-performance and high crime volumes needed to be resolved.

To take on the task, a team of detectives was assembled to address outstanding cases, some that dated back more than 10 years.

With little insight into the team’s involvement in Pietermaritzburg provided by the police’s communications office, The Witness sought to identify why Plessislaer made the list.

The inner workings of the station — which covers Edendale, Imbali, France and other suburbs and townships bordering the city — was described by police sources who work there.

From what officers said, a two-sided coin emerged: one side being that the station is under-resourced and the other that detectives are trying their best while faced with a large area of jurisdiction.

Policemen, who could not be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media, said the problem in Plessislaer is that there are not enough detectives, and those that do work for the precinct are under-resourced.

“There is computer equipment and vehicle resources that are out of commission at the station. Detectives must often borrow and use from others. This impairs their ability to close cases,” two sources agreed.

However, other policemen were of a different opinion, saluting the work done by detectives at the station. “You must understand that the areas we deal with are huge and made up mostly of townships, where finding suspects is very difficult. There are foreigners who live here and people move around quickly, so they become hard to trace as many people know them only by face or nickname,” one officer said.

“This must be taken into account. We are not the worst performing station; our job is just a lot different.”

According to figures released by the National Assembly dating back to 2014, before the national readjustment of police clusters, Plessislaer then had 213 commissioned officers and 53 administration staff.

These figures compared to a total staff count of 388 at the Pietermaritzburg police station in the CBD, which services a smaller area.

In the 2014/2015 crime statistics, Plessislaer’s crime ratings were mostly in the green, indicating an overall drop in crimes since the previous year. However, the statistics give no insight into the number of arrests made for particular crime categories in that year.

In January, the police management announced that the crack team of detectives had already put 466 of the country’s most wanted criminals behind bars, but none of those arrests were made in Plessislaer.

With the team said to spend five days at each of the 63 stations, it is unclear as to whether the team has visited the station at all.

Asked a host of questions regarding the project at Plessislaer, national police spokesperson Vish Naidoo said he was not inclined to comment on any specific station until the project had reached its end.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  police  |  saps

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