Security measures at Lingelethu West Police station in Khayelitsha have been upgraded after three heavily armed criminals shot and wounded a police officer during a failed robbery there three weeks ago.
CCTV cameras have been installed at the station and other upgrades are expected to be made to tighten up security.
One of the armed criminals entered the station pretending that he had been robbed in Makhaza. While the officer at the community service centre was attending to the man, two others carrying rifles entered.
The officer took cover and one of the criminals jumped over the counter and shot the officer.
But another officer from the station retaliated, returning fire and the criminals fled the scene.
At the time of the incident, there were four police officers at the station and a civilian. The officer who was shot is still recovering in hospital.
On Thursday July 6, Khayelitsha cluster commander Major General Johan Brand, Major General Phumelelo Manci and Deputy Minister of Police Bongi Mkhongi visited the station to applaud the officers for defending themselves and the station.
Major General Brand said they were planning to install intercom systems at various police stations to beef up security.
He said police officers risked their lives to ensure that our communities were better places to live in.
He assured the community that they would leave no stone unturned in their search for the perpetrators.
He said they believed the criminals’ motive was to steal the weapons at the station.
He recommended to the minister that the police officer should be nominated for a bravery award.
Mr Mkhongi said police stations should be considered national key points and that the ministry of police was declaring war on crime.
He heaped praise on the officers for their bravery, saying they did not only protect their lives, but protected the weapons kept at the station.
He told the residents that police officers were killed but we didn’t look out for them.
He urged the residents not to harbour criminals in their homes and pleaded with them not to buy stolen goods as they were contributing to crime.
Mr Mkhongi said the weapons that were given to the police were meant to be used to protect them when their lives were in danger.
“No police officer should die with his or her tool of trade in the hand. We cannot celebrate the death of police officers and mourn the death of criminals. We are not going to negotiate with criminals because they are not negotiating with us, instead they are gunning us down,” he said.
Mr Mkhongi added that they couldn’t rule out the possibility of an inside job and admitted that there were rotten police officers who were working with criminals. But, they would root them out of the force once they found them.
Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF), Ndithini Tyhido, said they viewed the visit as a humbling gesture, particularly for the family of the officer who was harmed during the robbery.
He said as an organisation they supported the SAPS and added that Khayelitsha needed more police officers.