South Africa 10.10.2018 03:17 pm

Sophiatown police grossly understaffed

Residents in Westbury block roads into the area and running battles with police throwing stones and petrol bombs following the killing of a woman last week in an alleged gang related incident, 1 October 2018. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Residents in Westbury block roads into the area and running battles with police throwing stones and petrol bombs following the killing of a woman last week in an alleged gang related incident, 1 October 2018. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The station has less than half of its required manpower to adequately protect the community.

Sophiatown Police Station has less than half the staff it needs to protect more than 100 000 residents.

This was revealed by Station Commander Brigadier Susan Crafford during an announced visit by shadow deputy police minister Dianne Kohler Barnard on October 5, reports Northcliff Melville Times.

ALSO READ: Westbury residents threaten to burn down police station after Cele speech

“We should have 389 officers as per the Rag [resource allocation guide], but we only have 184,” said Crafford.

The police’s Rag is the tool the police use to determine the number of staff and resources needed per police station. And Crafford only has 47 per cent of what she actually needs.

Accompanying the visit was the shadow MEC in Gauteng for Public Safety Kate Lorimer, and James Lorimer, the head of the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) constituency under which this police station falls.

James is also the shadow minister of mineral resources.

Station Commander Brigadier Susan Crafford (second left) shows shadow deputy police minister Dianne Kohler Barnard (second right) around the station.

They also discovered that officers are working under tremendous pressure, with about 50 cases being worked on at a time per officer.

Even though Barnard was impressed overall with the administration and functioning of the police station, she was very concerned about the staff shortages.

Crafford revealed that the biggest shortage was in the crime prevention operations at the station.

“We have advertised most of the vacancies and we have been conducting interviews,” she said.

The reason, James explained, that this staffing gap existed was because of the South African Police’s databases not being updated when an officer either leaves, passes away or is transferred to another station or unit. The system does not show that there is a vacancy, he said.

Sophiatown police have recently been in the spotlight after a 41-year old woman was killed and a young child injured in apparent gang-related crossfire.

Westbury residents took to the streets not long after the incident.

Police minister Bheki Cele visited the area after the protest and heard the community’s concerns about drugs, gang-related violence and alleged corrupt police officials.

Since then, 143 police officers and 60 Metro police officers have been permanently deployed to deal with the threat of drug-related violence in Westbury.

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