While Police Minister Bheki Cele has rated Gauteng as the capital of violent crimes, it has emerged there is only one operational SAPS helicopter servicing the entire province.
This was revealed by community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko in a written response to the DA’s Michael Shackleton.
The SAPS Air Wing unit provides critical support to officers on the ground by helping them find criminals hiding in thick bush, searching for missing persons and chasing armed robbers in high-speed chases and cash-in transit heists.
It is are also crucial for accurate aerial observation of crimes and can track suspect movements rapidly.
Mazibuko said the helicopters were not serviceable.
“Of the seven helicopters allocated to Gauteng only one is serviceable and operational while one has been redeployed to the Western Cape province since it had no serviceable helicopter for the past two years,” reads her reply.
She said that although the non-availability of serviceable helicopters would have a negative impact in the fight against crime, the province still had a total of four operational aircraft.
“These include two helicopters and two fixed wing (aeroplanes.)”
The DA said it was concerned about the safety of residents residents in light of the increased rate of crime revealed by Cele in his quarterly statistics.
Shackleton said in order to ensure the safety and security of our people, the police need adequate resources to perform their duties efficiently.
“The DA demands MEC Mazibuko engage with her national counterpart, Minister of Police Bheki Cele to ensure availability of serviceable, airworthy and well-equipped aircraft to effectively fight crime in the province,” Shackleton said.