Umsunduzi cops incompetent and drunk

Umsunduzi police station PICTURE BONGANI MBATHA

Umsunduzi police station PICTURE BONGANI MBATHA

Published May 3, 2015


Durban - Residents in KwaXimba, near Cato Ridge, have given provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mammonye Ngobeni a week to sort out incompetent police at Umsunduzi police station.

They claim criminal cases are unsolved, and officers were allegedly drinking while on duty.

On Monday, more than 2 000 residents marched to the station and demanded to meet with Ngobeni to air their grievances. When she arrived, they complained that the six officers based at the station had failed to solve cases due to incompetence.

While Ngobeni was at the station, a drunk policeman arrived to work. She ordered that he be investigated for being drunk during his shift.

The residents have warned that if Ngobeni does not sort out the “mess”, they will disrupt all operations there.

According to the chairman of the community police forum (CPF), Dumisani Shelembe, the police station serves about five wards which comprise more than 500 000 people. It has been allocated 22 state vehicles but only eight were operational. It is alleged that the others had been taken for repairs at the workshop in Mariannhill after they were in accidents by police who drove them while under the influence of alcohol.

Shelembe said the community was frustrated because the police had failed to crack down on a number of cases and crime was reportedly on the increase in the area. “They buy alcohol from a nearby tavern and drink during work hours. It is a sad state of affairs. Victims are resorting to vigilantism because they have lost faith in the police. They do not report crime anymore because nothing gets done. It is very rare to see someone being arrested here; instead, accomplices tip off criminals if a tactical response unit has been deployed to investigate.”

Among the unsolved cases is that of Tholwephi Miya, who has been missing for exactly a year.

Miya’s sister-in-law, Lungile Gasa, said the community protested because Miya, 45, disappeared and the police had failed to help with the investigation. The family had to turn to a private investigator for help.

Gasa claims that Miya, a street hawker, was kidnapped on May 5. She received a call from someone who promised to take her to a store which had a sale. “She left that morning and never came back. Her phone went off. Police failed to circulate her picture so that she could be traced.”

Miya’s 21-year-old son, Khanyisani, said life was difficult without his mother and the chances of her being found alive were slim, since she has been missing for a year.

Umsunduzi police station’s Captain Zingisile Jam Jam said it was common for people to go missing and not be found despite extensive searches being conducted.

He also blamed the community for not reporting crime that was happening in their areas. He said his police station was expected to serve three wards, which was impossible when looking at the size of the area. He claimed that the cluster commander had been made aware of the problems at the police station.

“Other parts served by the police station are deeply rural and therefore may be a challenge for the victims to access the station. It is sometimes a waste of state resources to patrol the area which is deemed not to have a high level of crime. There are only six staff members per shift, considering that there are those on sick leave, vacation, and family responsibility leave. Sometimes there are situations where only three officers show up for work.

“When there is a crime reported, two officers need to be dispatched to that area. Which means we are now left with only one officer to tend to queries at the station,” Jam Jam said.

SAPS spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed that steps would be taken against the member found under the influence of alcohol.

“Disciplinary investigations will follow. A team has been established to attend to the concerns of the community. It will conduct a surprise visit to the station. Cases raised have been assigned to the team from the provincial commissioner’s office.”

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Sunday Tribune

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