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Cape Town -  The Chairperson of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police has expressed "serious concern" following the latest attack on a police station, this in Kareedouw in the Eastern Cape.

A gang of armed men robbed the Kareedouw police station just before 2am on Saturday morning, holding the officer on duty at gunpoint, before fleeing with a number of firearms, including automatic rifles, as well as a police radio, from the safe.

A huge manhunt has been launched for the suspects.

Chairperson of the committee, Francois Beukman, said in a statement that there was serious concern about the effectiveness of the safety strategy of the South African Police Services at station level following the attack. 

"The Committee condemns this act in the strongest terms," he said.  

"It is concerning that criminals have become so brazen that police stations, institutions at the centre of the fight against crime, are being targeted as playgrounds for the commitment of crimes. It is also concerning that police firearms stolen at the station will add to the pool of firearms to be used in criminal activities." 

The statement added that the committee also noted that the robbery happened despite the assurance given by SAPS management earlier this year that safety at police stations will be upgraded. 

Police management also gave an undertaking that the necessary training to prevent such attacks will take place. “There is clearly shortcomings in the implementation in the plan and police management will have to account for this failure,” Beukman emphasised.

He added that the committee had for some time now called for the rethinking of police station safety and the integration of technology to effectively combat crime. 

While the committee is cognisant of the long-term nature of incorporating IT in to the security strategy, it had called for urgent steps in dealing with this seemingly growing trend. 

"The committee, however, welcomes the announcement confirming the activation of units to track and apprehend the perpetrators of this crime. Furthermore, the retrieval of the firearms stolen is of foremost importance. The committee will upon the restart of the term of Parliament request the SAPS management to give an update on all attacks at police stations and progress in preventing this worrying trend." 

African News Agency/ANA