Cape Town - Staff shortages, absenteeism, and a lack of reservists are the realities Khayelitsha, Cape Town, police stations face, a retired police officer said on Monday.
Former deputy provincial commissioner of operations Glenn Schooling was giving evidence on the report he and a fellow officer compiled for the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry.
According to the report, the staff complement at the Khayelitsha police station declined by 55 members, predominantly non-commissioned visible policing officers, between August 2010 and 2012. These figures were different to those stated in the police resource allocation guide.
Schooling said he was concerned about absenteeism figures across the stations.
“If you have 15 people on relief and two people are off sick and another person is off who is pregnant, it does bring a big change to what you have available.”
He said low morale was a big contributor to absenteeism figures. Absenteeism had a ripple effect on the number of vehicles that could be deployed, especially because two officers were required per car.
“One person is not enough to work on a vehicle. It is anti-sector policing policy, but it happens.”
The commission heard that the number of reservists in the area declined between 2010 and 2012. Schooling said reservists had been paid on several occasions for big events in the past, such as the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.
“This has made it very difficult to get reservists to come in and do voluntary work. Most of these people are actually unemployed,” he said.
These reservists had to use their own money for public transport to their station and this had put many people off, he said.
The commission was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille to probe accusations by civil society formations that police inaction was leading to an increase in mob justice killings in the area.
The Social Justice Coalition alleged police inefficiency was leading to criminals running rampant in the sprawling township, and residents being forced to take the law into their own hands.
The commission's activities were delayed for some time when Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa tried to have the inquiry scrapped.
Mthethwa lost his legal bid to stop the commission in the Constitutional Court in October last year. The first phase of the hearings was expected to end on February 21.