Shortage of police holding cells in Centurion a worry
In an answer to a parliamentary question by the DA, the Minister of Police Bheki Cele said that few criminals could be detained overnight by Centurion police.
Speaking to the Pretoria News, DA MP Cilliers Brink said the response received after asking about the capacity of Centurion police station holding cells was that only Wierdabrug had cells to hold persons overnight.
“Criminals arrested by police in Lyttelton, Olievenhoutbosch, Erasmia, and Laudium all have to be taken to other police stations for detention.”
He said it was worrying that suspects arrested by Olievenhoutbosch police had to be taken to Wierdabrug as the two police stations are more than 15km apart.
“Wierdabrug, in turn, can only detain 60 male and five female suspects overnight - a startling ratio to the tens of thousands of people who live in this combined precinct,” said Brink.
Suspects arrested in Erasmia and Laudium have to be taken to Atteridgeville, and those arrested in Lyttelton have to be taken to Sunnyside.
Another concern was that of these police stations only Atteridgeville had separate holding cells for juvenile and LGBTQI individuals.
Brink said they feared the shortage of police holdings cells could have the effect of discouraging police from arresting and detaining most criminal suspects they encountered.
Crime activist Yusuf Abramjee shared similar sentiments about the state of police stations and ferrying of suspects to other holding cells.
“This is indeed very worrying and we’ve had this problem all through the years. Transporting suspects to other holding cells is a major problem.”
He said the government ought to invest more money into holding cells.
“At the Erasmia police station, building came to a stop some years ago. Public Works is not doing anything. The current police station is small and jam-packed.
“The Laudium police station is a mess. The building is old and it is in poor condition. The cells are small and suspects are transferred to other stations. We need urgent interventions,” said Abramjee.
Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said: “It is true that the infrastructure of the police stations are not the same.
“However, neighbouring stations offer support to one another in order for service to the community to continue unhindered.”