National police commissioner Khehla Sithole. FILE PHOTO/ANA

Cape Town - National police commissioner General Khehla Sithole on Wednesday told MPs that there were strategies which had been put in place to prioritise police safety at all stations, although he admitted that there were challenges.

He said some of the police stations needed to be completely redesigned as they made police members vulnerable. However, some police station premises were being rented which become a barrier to raising safety measures at those particular stations. 

Sithole was briefing the parliamentary committee on police on the Engcobo police station killings earlier this year in which five police officers and a retired soldier were gunned down. 

He was also giving an update on the technology strategy with special reference to CCTV for police stations and also on the situation at Mamelodi West police station in which police officers earlier this month allegedly mishandled a case of a missing child, Katlego Joja, 10, whose body was found days later after her parents had been turned away from the station after reporting her missing.

"One of the challenges, which I think is interesting, I never had an office since I had become a police commissioner. I have been waiting to occupy Telkom Towers but I was given five dates since my appointment,” said Sithole. 

“I was told I was going to be ready to enter the office in January, it went to February, April, to May. I decided to occupy the office, I think, two weeks back and after I have occupied the office they wrote me a letter, ‘we do not take any risk for your premature occupation of the office’, so I have been working under the trees and fighting crime from under the tree. So I think there are those challenges.”

Commenting on the security enhancements at police stations across the country, he told MPs that police strategies had been reviewed.

He said the police had started interacting with the community of Engcobo, which had included an imbizo (community meeting) which the minister of police had convened.

"The community policing strategy has been fully implemented at Engcobo and now fully in place, so the community link and intervention is now sustainable in terms of this particular plan."

He added that officials were busy with the total review of the technological strategies and requirements for policing at the station.

“While we are going to install CCTV cameras at Engcobo and all the other police stations in the country, we are also linking that to the review and update of technology.”

Police further told MPs that the Mancoba Seven Angels church, where the police station attackers hidden out, had since been closed down, adding that the matter was still under investigation as more charges were likely to be added. A police task team killed seven suspects during a shoot-out as they closed in on the gang of cop killers. At least ten other suspects were also arrested at the church.

According to police, some security upgrades which had been had undertaken at the police station since the incident had been taken from the police budget as the department of public works would have taken too long to effect the changes.

African News Agency/ANA