Action Society was approached by members of various police units about problems with their radio communication systems.
According to Ian Cameron, director of community safety at Action Society, the problem is nationwide and it has become common practice for police officers to use their personal mobile phones – at their own expense – to communicate with each other.
“It is shocking, but not surprising, that the problems have been reported to commanders, but there is still no feedback on what is being done to solve the problem,” says Cameron. “One of the units that is seriously affected by this is the Western Cape police patrol. In areas such as Delft, Gugulethu and Khayelitsha, the emergency patrol is usually deployed first to active scenes. Reliable communication for such a unit can mean the difference between life and death, especially when one considers the shortage of police officers in these areas.”
Action Society has written to the provincial police commissioner, the South African Police Service and the Western Cape provincial government for an urgent investigation into the critical breakdown of the Western Cape Blitz Patrol’s radio communication system.
“We are very concerned about the increasing number of problems faced by the Western Cape Blitz Patrol and other units in the SAPS. The consequences of insufficient capacity and mismanagement of resources are reflected in our country’s crime statistics.”
Cameron says that when he sees (national police commissioner) Bheki Cele again, he will ask him why he is “sending good police officers blindly into a type of war zone”. “I will tell him that he sends his police officers to their deaths and he will be too ashamed to visit the fallen police officers’ families. I will ask the police officers in Delft to tell me if they feel well equipped to do their job. I wonder if he will tell me to shut up again?
“We will keep pressure on the Western Cape office of the SAPS until the problem is resolved.”