56 detectives shoulder 9000 cases

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IOL nyanga police station 7877 CAPE ARGUS Community Police Forum (CPF) secretary Martin Makhasi, acting station commissioner Kennel Gunya and CPF chairman Sandile Martin during a police committee visit to Nyanga police station. Photo: Cindy Waxa

Cape Town - Nine thousand dockets between 56 detectives.

This is the staggering workload that detectives at the Nyanga police station are having to cope with.

The dockets include those for murder, assault, rape and property crime.

On Wednesday, Parliament’s police committee visited the station in the township notoriously known as the country’s murder capital. They were invited by the local community police forum to address “serious issues”.

The committee listened to issues, including police absenteeism, lack of resources and phone calls going unanswered.

Martin Makhasi, Community Police Forum secretary, told the committee that Nyanga police station covers six precincts, including Browns Farm, Samora Machel and Philippi, with a population of around 200 000 people.

“We have issues with resources and there are two different views on this.

“The province feels we have enough resources but the community feels that police need reinforcements.”

He added that challenges at the station included quality staff members being removed and not being replaced.

“In May, 17 members booked off sick and said they couldn’t take it any more, that their working hours were abnormal.”

He added that it was rare to see patrols at night because of the lack of staff.

“Abuse of women and children, murder and the circulation of illegal firearms are the biggest problems in Nyanga,” said Makhasi.

Major Lana Poolman, the detective’s acting branch commander, told the committee that the detective unit needed at least 15 more detectives.

“Nyanga cases are of a violent nature so (they) take longer to investigate.”

She added that the majority of detectives were seasoned members with more than 17 years’ experience, with the oldest in his 50s.

“The number of dockets at the detectives unit are plus minus 9 000.

“Of 63 detectives, seven are stationed elsewhere so there are 56 detectives.

“There are 200 dockets on each desk; one detective has 600 dockets, while another working on a gang project has 45.

“A general group of detectives works with around 200 and 300 dockets while the serious violent and crime unit has 150 dockets.”

In the previous financial year, 4 396 crimes remained unsolved and 10 643 cases were opened, Poolman added.

Committee chairman Francois Beukman said staffing of the detectives’ unit needed urgent attention.

“It is worrying that 56 detectives are faced with resolving 9 000 dockets.”

He added that while they were impressed with some of the initiatives implemented, such as the E-docket system, there remained areas of concern, such as slow response times, unanswered calls and a shortage of officers servicing the area.

“It is these areas of concern (that need) urgent attention and we will soon engage the provincial commissioner to seek clarity on plans to address this,” said Beukman.

He added that a lack of planning on patrolling the N2 highway was concerning and that a plan should be implemented.

The committee will report their findings to provincial commissioner Arno Lamoer on September 10.

l Last month, findings in the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry concluded that many detectives in Khayelitsha are carrying 150 to 200 dockets each, which were not manageable.

In addition to the shortages of detectives there also appeared to be problems with training detectives.

The commission identified serious overlapping inefficiencies in policing.

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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