The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is incensed by the latest continued spate of attacks on police stations, with the latest having taken place at the Sir Lowry’s Pass satellite police station.
It is reported that at around 9pm last night, three armed suspects approached two members who were on duty in the community service centre and held them at gunpoint. They disarmed the police officers and fled with two 9mm service pistols, three cellular phones and a laptop computer.
As fortunate as it is that these police officers were not injured during the incident, it has become increasingly concerning that at every instance, these attacks are becoming a norm, and therefore compromising the much needed service delivery these stations are supposed to provide to communities.
This brazen attack is part of a continued sequence of attacks targeted at law enforcement officers across different provinces, having left many officers either injured or deceased. They take place at a time when the criminal justice cluster is faced with many internal challenges, including understaffing and the lack of sufficient resources in efficiently servicing communities, and therefore further fuelling avoidable tensions between the two.
This necessitates a concerted effort to urgently address the difficult interactions police have with communities they are supposed to serve and protect as part of achieving our common long term objectives of attaining harmonious societies.
There is a need to engage in prosocial activities to enhance the well-being of communities beyond law enforcement because in the end, police-community relations should always be a process where police are engaged with the communities they serve in order to make them safer and better places to live.
When there are good police–community relations, police have a better understanding of the public’s concerns, and citizens are more inclined to report crimes that occur to the police, provide tips/intelligence to law enforcement, and willingly serve as witnesses. By extension, police also become more proactive, thereby preventing crimes before they occur or minimizing their impact, instead of simply reacting to calls for service. Good police– community relations prevent the possibility that the public thinks that police are simply a mechanism for intelligence collection.
When there are poor police–community relations, the police typically lack a basic understanding of community problems, goals, and desires, and the community, particularly those citizens who are experiencing high rates of crime, poverty, and homelessness, perceive police as an occupying and out-of-touch service that does more harm than good. In these situations, police primarily assume a reactive mode of response to community problems.
Any attack on police stations is an attack on the community, as it diminishes the communities’ and law enforcement agencies’ capacity to defend and fight off criminality. It is always in the best interest of all parties to work together in keeping our communities as safe spaces, and in this regard, we call for improved community-policing relations as a basis for joint efforts to end crime.
We further urge the Finance Ministry to reconsider the reduced average annual rate of 0, 8% which continues to demonstrably impact negatively on the roles and responsibilities expected to be played by law enforcement agencies. The last budget cuts of R11, 8 billion for the 2021/22 financial years continue to have huge implications for the needed capacity in improving services to our populace.
POPCRU is of the view that the current process of restructuring the SAPS will, in the short to long-term, address the pressing issues around the duplication of functions, weak command and control, and poor service delivery at police station level. For us, the process of restructuring is informed by the need to improve conditions for the service provided, with its goals being to ensure improved productivity and morale, increased organisational effectiveness and efficiency.
We believe that through these fundamentals, the improvement and functioning of different components can easily complement each other in the best interest of serving our people, while ensuring there are more boots on the ground where crime is happening.
We call on members of society to shed light on the circumstances around this and other similar attacks so as to bring the perpetrators to book.
Issued by POPCRU on 24/10/2021
For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349