Durban — After completing a week-long tour of KwaZulu-Natal to assess the SAPS’ state of readiness to deal with future violent unrest in the province, DA police spokesperson Andrew Whitfield said KZN SAPS was unprepared for future violent unrest.
Whitfield said that almost a year after violence broke out in KZN in July 2021, they met with victims of crime and members of the SAPS to gain insight into the state of policing.
DA shadow minister of Police, Andrew Whitfield leading oversight visits to police stations in the King Cetshwayo District today.— DA KZN (@DA_KZN) June 27, 2022
Their first stop is at the what used to be Kwadlangezwa police station that was burnt to the ground by protesting students in 2019.#DAatWork pic.twitter.com/jU0TZhRqiI
He said, from their engagements with the SAPS, it is clear that they are completely unprepared for future violent unrest which might occur.
“SAPS members told us that they had received no additional resources since the violent unrest of July 2021. Most police stations did not have working generators or phone lines, and it was clear that morale among SAPS members is at an all-time low,” Whitfield said.
He said that in a recent response to a parliamentary question submitted by the DA, Minister of Police Bheki Cele revealed that more than 50% of the fleet for the Public Order Police in KZN is not operational.
The DA now at the Empangeni SAPS engaging with the management about some of the challenges at the satellite stations under them including their station.— DA KZN (@DA_KZN) June 27, 2022
They have indicated that should we have another insurrection in the province, they would not have the capacity to handle it. pic.twitter.com/7TnF72RGTE
“This shocking revelation comes nearly a full year after the violent unrest which brought the province to its knees,” Whitfield said.
He said that conversations with victims of crime painted a bleak picture of corruption and careless police work, which has led to heightened levels of public distrust in the SAPS in KZN. The state of policing in KZN is clearly a crisis which requires urgent attention from the Minister and National Police Commissioner.
Half of the police vehicles are in the workshop, the telephone lines do not work, the DA will be taking these matters up with National to seek relief for Umlazi residents against the alarming crime.@andrewhitfield - DA shadow minister of Police pic.twitter.com/OVoxSuRR4s— DA KZN (@DA_KZN) June 28, 2022
“The statistics for the province of KwaZulu-Natal, dubbed the “murder and rape capital” of the country, are far worse on the ground than they are on paper,” Whitfield said.
He said they listened to residents who have fallen victim to the very people that are supposed to protect them and denied the protection afforded to them in the South African Constitution.
Whitfield added that they stand together in the same corner with law-abiding South Africans from all communities who have been failed by the police and want to live in safety.
We have just been denied access to do oversight at the Phoenix police station which was ground zero during the violent unrest.— DA KZN (@DA_KZN) June 29, 2022
This is completely unacceptable, members of parliament have a responsibility to do oversight.@andrewhitfield pic.twitter.com/WwK49B0jsu
“We will be taking these issues up with the National Police Commissioner and present our proposals to help curb crime,” Whitfield said.
He said the DA is fighting to create a safe environment for all South Africans, a country that we can all be proud of, instead of constantly living in fear.
The civil unrest witnessed in KZN and Gauteng put the spotlight, again, on public order policing and crime intelligence in South Africa.
During a Daily News interview in July 2021, University of Stellenbosch criminologist Dr Guy Lamb said police could only really respond when they had good enough intelligence, and what happened was quite different to what was typically seen in South Africa, around protests and unrest.
“The police weren’t really prepared for it,” said Lamb.
Lamb felt that the police needed to find ways to build better relationships in those communities that were focal points of the looting.
Lamb said, up until 2012, when the Marikana Massacre took place, public order policing was neglected. As a result, a lot of work was done within the police around how to improve public order policing, so unrest, looting and public disorder incidents were the responsibility of the police to re-establish public order.