Police officers at Sunnyside station were caught off guard on Wednesday morning when SAPS top management rocked up unannounced.
The unannounced visit, which was led by Minister Bheki Cele and National Commissioner General Khehla Sitole, was to check on compliance and whether the code of ethics is being adhered to by members at station level. Cele wants to ensure that the code of conduct and Batho Pele principles are being followed to the tee.
Upon arrival at 7am, Cele and his delegation interacted with the officers at the front desk. He questioned them on matters of cleanliness, the lack of branding and display of official pictures of the executive.
He proceeded to interact with various units such as Visible Policing, Alcohol Unit, Social Services and Finance. He also visited the holding cells, where he found seven suspected criminals.
Of these suspected criminals, five were foreign nationals from various countries such as Nigeria, DRC and Zimbabwe, who were arrested for robberies and truck high jacking. The majority were undocumented, while others had expired travel documents.
Sunnyside police commander Brigadier Ramakamakama Kekana told Cele that most commonly reported incidents at the station included theft of motor vehicles using remote-controlled deactivating devices, common robberies, drugs — which are mostly sold to the most vulnerable people, usually students — and house breaking.
Civilians at the station used the high level visit to raise issues about the infiltration of drugs and suspected body part harvesting.
Cele told SAnews that he choose to visit the police station to get first-hand experience of the concerns that have been raise about the police station.
“We spent more than an hour here and we have found that there are things [they are doing right] and things that need to be fixed. We have spoken the community, who raised several issues that we have to follow up on,” Cele said.
With regards to the undocumented foreign nationals, Cele said he will take up the issue with the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster, which the Home Affairs Department is a part of.
“… Foreign nationals… [who] are undocumented give us a lot of problems… because you can’t even trace their fingerprints. As government and a cluster, we will address this issue.”
Getting the basics right
With regards to resources shortages such as vehicles in key units such as Visible Policing, Sitole assured that he will address this not only at Sunnyside, but across the province.
“We are going to beef up sector policing by increasing the personnel and vehicles. We have already started this on Gauteng [highways’] where we have deployed 65 vehicles. We will also look into beefing up crime prevention in this police station… so we have men on the ground to patrol this area on a 24-hour basis in order to combat drugs, which contributor to crimes,” said Sitole.
Kekana welcomed the unannounced visit, saying it will help them to stay on their toes.
“We were caught off guard by the Minister’s visit but as SAPS, we are always ready. We welcome the visit as it is a motivation to the members. It will motivate and encourage them. Going forward, we have noted the shortcomings that the top management highlighted and we will come up with new strategies to fix them.”
The SAPS management have a target to conduct unannounced visits to 100 police stations, which will translate to a total of 10 police stations in each province today.
The Minister of Police and National Commissioner moved to the North West where they will also be embarking on a service delivery exercise of visiting more police stations.
Cele said the unannounced police station visits will continue throughout the year, as one of the legacy commemoration events ensuring effective and efficient service to the public.
The obligation, he said, is to the Batho Pele principles, which emphasises access to public institutions and improved service. Cele said this should go beyond the 18th of July.
“For SAPS, the best that we can do every day is to ensure that South Africans, especially the women and children, are safe,” said Cele.