While crime in the Western Cape has surged, police in the province have spent R37m on stationery, R14m on vehicle tyres and R2m on car batteries.These figures came out of the provincial police’s annual report for 2016/17 presented to the standing committee on community safety in the Western Cape Legislature.
Brigadier Preston Voskuil, head of organisational development, said the police management spent funds on more than 6 000 vehicles, which ranged from top-end high-performance vehicles to bakkies and trucks.
Voskuil said the money spent on tyres and batteries depended on the vehicles and could be expensive.
Asked about the expenditure for stationery, he said the province’s police had more than 21 000 staffers who need paper, pens and other stationery to perform their work.
Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula said they were focusing on crimes such as gang violence, robberies and murders. He also said attacks on police officers had risen.
“Most of the attacks on our officers are linked to revenge attacks and for the guns they carry. These attacks are not limited to the police. We have seen a rapid increase in attacks on paramedics. There is an agreement with the department to that effect, and where there are dangerous areas, the paramedics will go to a police station and wait for an escort,” Jula said.
Drugs and gangs remained the core challenges for police, he noted.
“We know who the druglords are. We know where the drug houses are. We have all the information we need and we are going to hit them hard. Our problem at times is the co-operation with the community. Sometimes they don’t seem to see the need to give us information. We do get co-operation, but not always,” he said.
Jula also said the loss of firearms, either through negligence or gang involvement, was an issue they were looking at.
“We had a very nasty problem at the Mitchells Plain and Bellville South police stations, where 33 of our firearms disappeared. We have subjected the members involved to the disciplinary process and will deal with them,” he said.
Mireille Wenger, DA MPL and chairperson of the committee, raised concerns at the number of criminals who escaped from police custody. Figures show that 191 incidents of criminals escaping police custody were recorded. Police, however, said 125 of the escapees were rearrested.
“We had an incident at the Kraaifontein police station where six men escaped. Within an hour we caught five of the six. In these situations, the police put a task team together. This includes the Tactical Response Team and other units,” he said.
The provincial police had a total budget of R725million of which 99.1% was spent.
By: JASON FELIX/ Cape Argus