PARLIAMENT - Parliament's portfolio committee on police on Friday said it was seriously concerned about the police service's operational readiness after four incidents in the past week pointed to weaknesses and called on the national commissioner to explain why these were allowed to happen.

The chairman of the committee, Francois Beukman, pointed to the torching of two police vans in Botrivier, the use of live ammunition by police in Gauteng and the Western Cape and due to a lack of sufficient deployment of POPS (Public Order Policing Units) members and the robbery at the Elspark police station in Gauteng where an R-5 rifle was stolen.

Beukman said that the committee recently stressed the need for better security and safety measures at police stations to National Commissioner Khehla Sitole and he would now have to explain why police management had not acted on this.

“Clearly there is a lack of urgency to deal with the matter as a priority and the national commissioner will have to explain to Parliament why the assurances given by the police management was not followed through," Beukman said

“We expect the national commissioner to implement consequence management. The loss of an R-5 rifle at a police station during a robbery paints a picture of lack of command and control, and further highlights the on-going leakage of high-powered SAPS firearms into the illegal firearm pool which find their way into the hands of robbers."

Beukman said the use of live ammunition was the result of police failing to deploy public order policing units when necessary. 

"The non-deployment of POPS members in emerging volatile situations due to slow reaction and no actionable intelligence is a further concern. In the case of Botrivier, there was a public admission by the local commander that they had too 'few members to deal with the situation'. 

"Response times and interaction between visible policing, crime intelligence and specialised units is not at an acceptable level."

He said the committee believed Khehla would have to relook at deployment patterns to ensure maximum operational readiness.

"This will contribute towards ensuring the optimum safety of citizens at all times," he added.

African News Agency/ANA