This statement follows an oversight visit to Engcobo Police Station by DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP and DA Leader in the Provincial Legislature, Bobby Stevenson MPL. Please find soundbites in English and IsiZulu by Mr Mbhele.
Today’s visit to the Engcobo SAPS with the DA Leader in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Bobby Stevenson, highlighted the fact our communities are not safe.
When a police station, which should stand as a bright light against the dark act of crime, is subjected to the horror of theft and murder, then this brings us to question our own safety as ordinary citizens and the ability of the SAPS to fight crime.
Following this heinous attack on our women and men in blue, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula needs to roll out a plan and strategy that tangibly and effectively keeps us safe in our homes and on the streets. The reality is that crime cannot be tweeted away. How many more people must die before we see real action from the Minister?
Today, we also met with the Eastern Cape Provincial Police Commissioner, General LE Ntshinga, to discuss what actions have and should be taken to ensure that the Engcobo police station’s infrastructure is secure.
It appears that stealing firearms was at least part of the motive for this brazen attack. It is deeply concerning that the police station was attacked at the same time as patrol vehicles, in what may have been a co-ordinated attack to paralyse the ability of the SAPS to respond to an ATM attack that was underway at the same time but was ultimately unsuccessful.
This disturbing attack highlights that our SAPS members need to be adequately resourced, equipped and trained so that they are ready for any possible eventuality.
The DA calls on the Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula to prioritise making sure that police stations across the country have the resources they need to protect themselves and the people of South Africa against criminals. This follows the deadly attack on Engcobo Police station in which 6 SAPS members were murdered.
Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and we extend our sympathy and encouragement to the surviving SAPS members who have been traumatised.
SAPS members put their lives on the line every day and it is only fair that they have what they need to protect themselves and ultimately the people they are meant to protect.
It is clear that the Minister is neglecting his duty to fully capacitate and professionalise the police service. This results in the lack of resources at police stations and therefore, the SAPS’s inability to bring down the unacceptably high rate of crime in our country.
The fact of the matter is that the police’s efforts to ensure safer communities will be reduced to a mere exercise in futility if the police themselves are not fully-equipped to take on hardened criminals.
It is an indictment on Minister Mbalula and the entire SAPS leadership that the men and women tasked with the safety of our people, lack the necessary resources to do their jobs.
The DA welcomes that a team of detectives has been assigned the case and the Minister must provide regular updates on the progress made in the investigation. We also appeal to the public come forward with any information which can help track down the perpetrators of this crime.