THE Harare policing precinct in Khayelitsha is dealing mostly with violent crimes and its officers have to service an area large enough for two police stations, the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry heard yesterday.
The commission resumed after a three-week break. Former head of detectives at the Harare police station Andrew Tobias continued his testimony from three weeks ago.
Later in the day, Harare station commander Colonel Tshotleho Raboliba and the station’s former head, Colonel Gert Nel, appeared before commissioners Kate O’Regan and Vusi Pikoli.
Raboliba told the commission that since he took command in 2012 there has been a shortage of resources but they were coping. “But currently we are policing an area that could be policed by two stations,” Raboliba said.
He said the station did not have enough manpower in visible policing for patrols and a shortage of vehicles. The precinct, which has four sectors, can only afford one vehicle per sector.
Two densely-populated informal settlements were also identified as hot spots. Enkanini and Endlovini, were difficult to patrol with vehicles, and foot patrols were infrequent due to manpower shortages.
Asked by advocate Norman Arendse SC, representing the police, whether he was satisfied with the resource allocations, Raboliba said: “I’m not happy. I will only be happy if another police station is built.”
He was referring to a planned station near the Makhaza Shopping Centre, which would relieve some of the pressure on Harare resources.
Currently residents in Makhaza and Enkanini, which are at the back of Khayelitsha near Baden Powell Drive, have to travel about six kilometres to get to the Harare station.
“Most of those people are not rich, they don’t have cars. I don’t think it is appropriate for them to walk five to six kilometres to get police service,” Raboliba said.
Nel, who was in charge of the station between 2008 and 2011, told the commission he had written to the police’s provincial office in 2010 reporting the inadequate resources.
He admitted that because of the lack of resources in some areas, policing was neglected and said had there been adequate resources the police would have done a better job.
There were areas in which Harare police had to improve, Nel said.
However, he rejected the conclusion that the police were inefficient and added that some crimes had resulted in the rise of vigilante attacks.
He said his definition of vigilantes was a group that sits in an informal court that tries and determines the punishment of suspected criminals outside of the law.
Nel said this was not the case in Harare where eight of the incidents of mob violence during his time in charge were a result of sporadic attacks.
He said police respond to reports of such incidents immediately when called, and at times they would catch some of the people in the act.
But in most cases it was difficult to secure arrests because culprits ran away and witnesses clammed up, Nel said.
He recalled an incident in which a suspected robber was severely beaten but was alive. The police called the ambulance but it responded late and the man died.