File picture: Skyler Reid/Independent Media

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Wednesday that the murder of nine people in Tembisa over five weeks was largely due to 65% shortage of staff at the police station.

In a statement, DA Deputy Chief Whip Michael Waters said that the South African Police Service (SAPS) station in Tembisa was unable to fulfill its constitutional duty of protecting citizens because there was a 65% shortage in its visible policing capacity.

"I was reliably informed of these shortages upon my recent visit to the Tembisa SAPS station, along with DA Councillor Philip Thamahane," Waters said.

"We also learned that there have been seven murders within the precinct in June and that within the first three days of July, two more people have been murdered."

The deputy chief whip said that visible policing was a crucial deterrent to violent crime and  provided vital reach for SAPS officers who had to investigate, pursue and apprehend suspects. 

"Failing to fulfill this function means that the SAPS is in breach of its mandate to protect citizens who cannot protect themselves."

Waters said the Tembisa police station had five sectors that had two visible policing vehicles patrolling at any given time, with two police officers in each vehicle. 

"The station therefore needs 20 police officers for this purpose," he said."The visible policing unit also staffs the client service office, where people go to lay charges. At least eight officers should be on duty at this office, at any given time."

Waters noted that the station required 28 police officers per shift, yet they only had around 10 officers per shift.

"The situation worsens when one takes sick leave and annual leave into account," he said.

"The Minister of Police and the National Commissioner must take full responsibility for the high crime rate and the chronic lack of police officers to prevent it. The residents of Tembisa deserve better police protection and their precinct must be urgently resourced. Failing to provide adequate policing is an affront on our constitutional right to safety and security."