From Eye Witness News: http://www.ewn.co.za/articleprog.aspx?id=16945
Tonight, the SAPS lack of effective planning and resourcing in the Western Cape effectively shot themselves in the foot – disarming up to 30% of their on the ground capacity.
Much has been made in the media of late regarding the implementation of the new firearms control act (FCA) what hasn’t been clarified – although often touched on – is the position this places the SAPS in in terms of having the largest volume of arms bearing officers second possibly to the SANDF. The new FCA requires that all persons carrying a firearm have completed and passed a competency test including examinations to a SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) approved standard. This includes the SAPS.
Effectively, this means that during the past 4 years, the SAPS has had the opportunity to ensure that its manpower component have all passed the appropriate testing so that individual officers are carrying firearms within the scope of the law.
Today saw a mass disarming of the reservist component of SAPS in the Western Cape.
All reservists were told to stop their duties and hand in the firearms they had booked out as they had not completed the required testing – despite in most cases this testing (known as a Street Survival Course) not having been made available to them. Reservists (particularly over weekends) comprise up to 30% of the man hours of SAPS in the Western Cape.
These are trained volunteers who are in two categories – those who provide their time and dedication free of charge and those who are “called up” and provide 16 hours free service followed by up to 20 shifts for which they are paid a ridiculous wage of approximately R2500 a month (constables’ wages).
During the course of today, station commissioners notified reservists when booking on for duty or simply called them in off the road and disarmed them apologizing profusely and watched in some cases up to a third of their visible policing force book their weapons in and head home.
A clear order stands within SAPS that no member may work out on the road in uniform without a firearm – there would therefore be no point in them all cluttering up the charge offices. It remains to be seen how this idiotic turn of events will be unravelled or how it will be righted from the current situation.
Permanent Police Officers who have also not completed the Street Survival Course and Competency exam were being issued “temporary weapons permits valid for 14 days” en-masse to ensure that they comply with the new FCA until such time as they can attend the courses.
In the Western Cape, there are insufficient instructors for the Street Survival and competency program to suddenly churn out the masses of members that will need certification immediately. As usual nobody seemed to know who issued the instruction although it’s rumoured to have come from Provincial Commissioner Mzwandile Petros personally. The normal blaming-game is expected to play out over the next week as some form of interim measure and the usual “it was a misunderstanding…” is offered to those whose services have effectively been rejected. As I type this, I can hear the sirens outside and wonder to myself how many calls will go unanswered tonight, how many dangerous criminals will slip through the net because of a direct lack of manpower?
Exactly how many will of course be an unknown factor, but what I do know is that the Western Cape SAPS have effectively (yet again) slapped dedicated and hard working volunteers in the face through their inefficient administration. This is the same administration that some 4 months ago made province wide calls and ran public advertisements calling for new reservists to join up and serve their communities – then after receiving literally hundreds of applications (if not thousands) turned them away saying that there was no capacity available to train them. Something is drastically malfunctioning in the wheels of the SAPS in our province and the cost is being borne by the humble citizen sitting watching television or eating dinner right now, blissfully unaware that the thin blue line keeping crime at bay is becoming weaker and weaker on a daily basis… I cannot possibly wait to see the excuses they will find to justify a monumental mistake like this or the PR they will roll out in an attempt to gloss over the severity of it. All I know is that when I head to bed, I’ll keep the doors locked and will rely on myself to protect my family – because the thin blue line is just too weak for me to depend on tonight.
This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on July 06, 2009
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