Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

State security agencies come under crime siege

Just a week ago, thieves breached security at the Hoedspruit Air Force base in Limpopo.

Daring thieves have made off with guns and an assortment of electronic equipment as well as police regalia, including blue lights and reflector jackets in 136 burglaries at 29 police stations in Gauteng in the past five years.

This revelation by the Gauteng provincial legislature comes barely a week after thieves breached security at the Hoedspruit Air Force base in Limpopo and stole cash and other valuables from the finance office.

In December 2019 thieves broke into the SA National Defense Force’s Lyttleton Tek Base and stole 19 R4 rifles designed for extreme combat warfare.

The following year, in December, brazen robbers held up Moyeni police station officers in the Eastern Cape and stole pistols, an R5 rifle and a police vehicle.

ALSO READ: Only four convicted for 136 police station burglaries in five years

Officers at Badplaas police station in Mpumalanga were held up last September and an R5 rifle with ammunition, two pistols and an undisclosed amount of cash taken.

The attacks demonstrate the brazenness of criminals and that not even the country’s security installations are spared from the crime rampage.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has lamented there has not been much progress in dealing with the uneven allocation of resources in the police and ensuring that more manpower was on the ground where crime was actually happening.

Responding to a legislature question from the DA’s Michael Shackleton, Gauteng community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said items stolen in the burglaries and robberies ranged from cash, chairs, electrical appliances, bathroom fittings and flash drives to dockets.

In Evaton, the burglars not only stole computer cases, laptops and electric cables but also made off with a school bag, spare shoe heels and a padlock.

The Johannesburg central police station was set alight after thieves broke in and stole computers, cash, cellphones, two firearms and women’s shoes.

Burglars emptied the fridge at Hillbrow police station and also stole official police clothing, door locks, reading glasses and a police stamp.

ALSO READ: Five men run off with firearms after robbing Eastern Cape police station

Evaton and Vosloorus police stations recorded the most number of 16 robberies and burglaries each, followed by Pretoria Central with 13 cases and Dobsonville with 10 cases, while other police stations have recorded less than 10 cases.

These break ins and robberies raise great concerns about the safety of residential homes, Shackleton said, and despite this, there was a low conviction rate compared to the number of arrests made.

In total, the items stolen in all the burglaries amounted to R1.6 million, with only 41 arrests and four convictions.

He said the lack of adequate investigation of criminal cases had already resulted in many cases being taken off the court roll due to a lack of evidence.

Shackleton said it was appalling that police were unable to safeguard their own premises, yet were mandated to see to the safety of residents.

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burglary South African Police Service (SAPS)