Beef up security at police stations

Cape Town - Parliament wants security at police stations to be addressed urgently, following the killing of five police officers and a former soldier in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape. Parliament's Select Committee on Security and Justice has strongly condemned the "callous attack" at Ngcobo police station on Wednesday. The attackers stole 10 firearms and a police vehicle that was later used in the robbery of a nearby Capitec ATM.

Committee chairperson Simphiwe George Mthimunye welcomed the urgent intervention, as well as the Minister of Police's visit to the area, and the setting up of a special task team to investigate the killings, a statement read. The committee highlighted the vulnerability of unsecured police stations and rural communities, as well as the proliferation in society of both legal and illegal guns, to which criminals have easy access. It called for speedy intervention.

In 2016 - 2017, there were 57 police killings, according to Parliament. "The South African Police Service (SAPS) should urgently address this matter to ensure the protection of its members, both on and off duty," said Mthimunye. The committee further called on police to urgently address ATM robberies, as Ngcobo police and the police station previously came under attack in March 2017 by approximately 15 armed robbers, who robbed a Standard Bank ATM.

READ: 5 cops, soldier killed in attack at Eastern Cape police station Mthimunye said, in terms of the 2016/17 crime statistics, 18 to 21 murders are committed daily with guns, which Gun Free South Africa has blamed on "poor enforcement of gun control laws". "The police must therefore ensure effective implementation of the Firearms Control Act of 2000, tighten firearms control measures and root out fraud and corruption among police officials in the gun licencing process to prevent the loss, theft and sale to criminals of legal confiscated and surrendered guns," he said.

Mthimunye said the Eastern Cape received the fourth highest police budget allocation in 2016-17 - a figure of R6.4 billion of the total SAPS provincial allocation of R48.7 billion. Furthermore, in the 2018 State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said more resources would be allocated to police stations. Protection and safety

The committee will be interacting with the police on budget and resourcing to provinces and police stations, including Ngcobo. Ngcobo police station reported 3 270 crimes in 2017, including 77 murders, 128 sexual offences and 107 cases of stock theft. "The SAPS is urged to urgently address security at police stations, especially as police stations in the Free State and Khayelitsha also came under attack by armed gangs in 2017," said Mthimunye.

Meanwhile, DA MP and spokesperson on police Zakhele Mbhele said in a statement said he would be visiting the Ngcobo police station on Thursday with DA leader in the Eastern Cape provincial legislature, Bobby Stevenson. "Such a tragedy demands that a full investigation be launched immediately to track down and bring to book the perpetrators of this crime. We welcome that a team of detectives have been assigned the case," Mbhele said in a statement.

"In a country with unacceptably high levels of crime, it cannot be that we lose those who are meant to protect and ensure the safety of our people."

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