Three brazen armed robbers held up a police officer and stole a large number of firearms and ammunition from the Tsineng police station.
A POLICE officer was held at gunpoint and robbed while on duty at the Tsineng police station in the Northern Cape, while the suspects also stole a large number of firearms and ammunition from the premises on Saturday night.
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) national spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said the incident happened at around 9.40pm on July 31 when three unknown men entered the police station.
“The suspects jumped over the counter and pointed a firearm at the officer on duty. They demanded that she hand over all available firearms and the keys to the safe. The suspects took three R5 rifles with two magazines and 37 rounds of ammunition, two 12-bore pump actions with 103 rounds of ammunition, eight 9 mm pistols with five magazines and 98 rounds of ammunition,” said Mamabolo.
He added that the police officer was tied up and robbed of her cellphone.
Mamabolo said that there were only two officers on duty in the area at the time of the robbery. “One officer was conducting patrols and the other officer was alone at the station.
“It is particularly concerning that for an area with a population of 23,000 residents with 43 villages, the station only has two police officers responsible for providing services to its residents.
“This brazen attack takes place at a time when criminal elements have become aware of the many underlying challenges faced by many of our police stations within rural and township areas, including under-staffing and the shortages of sufficient resources.”
He added that these conditions not only put the lives of police officers at risk but also created a false impression that the SAPS was intentionally failing to address crime within communities.
“The police are being unfairly blamed for failing to service communities while they have to contend with deteriorating working conditions and a lack of capacity.”
Mamabolo stated that budget cuts were further exacerbating poor service delivery.
“The SAPS’s expenditure has been reduced at an average annual rate of 0.8 percent. This will have a negative impact on maintaining peace and stability. The recent budget cuts by the Finance Ministry, amounting to R11.8 billion for the 2021/22 financial year, and the sudden reactionary extra funding of R250 million by the Minister of Finance during the past week is a travesty to policing in the country.”
Mamabolo said that police officers risked their lives on a daily basis without any guarantees that they would return home alive to their families.
“These attacks are also largely remnants of an increasingly unequal society, with growing unemployment,” he added.
“Under these circumstances, there has been a heavy reliance on policing as a way of curbing criminal activities that have marred our country. This has proven to be a heavy burden not only on the police but also in the fight against crime since they are under-resourced.”
He pointed out that correctional centres were overcrowded and that over 85 percent of inmates who were released became repeat offenders due to the lack of skills and job opportunities to sustain themselves.
“Popcru has long called for the restructuring of the SAPS – intended to address a duplication of functions, weak command and control and poor service delivery at police station level.”
He stressed the need to rectify working conditions to bring about improved productivity, efficiency and to boost morale.
“The SAPS needs to urgently address the lack of resources and staffing shortages at rural and township police stations and ensure they are led by competent managers.
“By addressing these challenges, we will be in a better position to ensure that heinous crimes such as police killings are curbed and good working relations are forged with communities.”