Cameron exposes “horrific” working conditions in SAPS – after another cop killing…

Crime fighter Ian Cameron of the Democratic Alliance (DA) exposes the horrific working conditions in the South African Police Services (SAPS) as yet another member is shot dead on duty with his own gun – this time after the retention cord from the State-issued holster broke. In this interview with BizNews, Cameron reveals a litany of operational issues following the killing: those in the Air Wing helicopter had no proper radio communication with police on the ground; the police drones took over four hours to arrive on the crime scene; most of the cops searching for the police officer’s killer didn’t have torches; there was no Joint Operations Centre or even an operational plan; and the incident commander sent away specialised units because there were “too many people”. Last year (2023), in just three months from July to September, a total of 35 cops were killed – more than 10 a month. Cameron urges South Africans to honour the “large majority” of police officers  “still willing to offer their lives for us at any given moment”.

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Summary of the interview

Ian Cameron, a member of the Democratic Alliance and a crime fighter, discussed the challenges faced by South African police officers in an interview with Chris Steyn. He highlighted the significant risks officers face, with around 70 officers killed in the first seven months of 2023 alone. This high rate of fatalities reflects the dangerous working conditions and the shortage of resources and support for law enforcement.

Cameron emphasized the need for public support and recognition of the sacrifices made by police officers. He called on people to show appreciation by providing basic amenities like soup or cold drinks during night shifts and visiting police stations to express gratitude. Despite the systemic challenges within the police force, Cameron commended the integrity and dedication of many officers who continue to serve despite the difficulties.

The interview underscored the disparity between the risks officers face and the inadequate support they receive, contrasting this with the preferential treatment some politicians and officials receive in terms of security. Cameron’s message centered on the importance of acknowledging and honoring the commitment of police officers, advocating for tangible actions to improve their working conditions and morale.

Extended transcript of the interview ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

00:00:09:02 – 00:00:20:13 Chris Steyn: Yet another policeman has lost his life on duty. Crime fighter Ian Cameron of the Democratic Alliance is here with BizNews to tell us more about it. Welcome, Ian.

00:00:20:17 – 00:00:51:19 Ian Cameron: Thank you, Chris. Sorry, I’m falling into it straight away, but I want to highlight before you even ask a question that we must realize how much cops in South Africa offer us when they put their lives at risk. By this, I’m not saying I know the police are in a very bad state, but I don’t think we realize the risk that some good ground-level cops take because they have very broken leadership. Despite that, and despite the poor resourcing, they put on that uniform every day, and a large majority of them are still willing to offer their lives for us at any given moment. I think we must honor them for that.

00:00:51:21 – 00:01:12:12 Chris Steyn: Now, tell us what happened in the latest case, Ian. Were there operational issues?

00:01:12:14 – 00:02:03:22 Ian Cameron: Yesterday, Sergeant Mahoney from the Mamre area, very close to Atlantis in the Western Cape, was shot and killed with his own service pistol after they had responded to a domestic complaint. So, Sergeant Mahoney, he has been in South African Police Service for over 20 years. Him and his partner responded to this call. When they got there, he asked his partner (and this is all allegedly at the moment, I don’t have every single fact, so please excuse it), to wait outside the bedroom window in case the suspect tries to jump up from there. He locked the room and left that. The suspect seemed to be on some kind of drug, probably tik I guess. And the suspect managed to get out of the room. There was then an altercation between him and Sergeant Mahoney. So the suspect grabbed Mahoney’s gun, and the retention cord from the state-issued holster broke. So issue number one again is poor resourcing; they don’t even get quality boots. The retention cord broke, if we take it a little bit further, when the helicopter reacted from the air wing, the helicopter didn’t have radios in order to communicate with police on the ground, so they couldn’t communicate with each other. The police drones took over four hours to actually arrive on the scene. You know, the SAPS members that were searching, the station members, don’t even have torches. The torches that are issued to them by the South African Police Service are of such a poor quality that most of them break quite quickly, or they just don’t function. So the majority of them don’t even have working torches. And when they do ask for more, they don’t get there was no joint operations center. Now there’s a 72-hour rule for a wanted suspect, especially such a dangerous and armed suspect, that there must be an operational plan. There was no operational plan either. The incident commander, from what I’m told, didn’t necessarily have the relevant experience, but I can’t comment directly on that. But the fact that there was no joint operation center and that there was no proper radio communication between air support and the people on the ground tells me that there’s something seriously wrong.

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00:02:03:22 – 00:02:29:02 Ian Cameron: The incident commander then told the tactical response team that had reacted TRT and public order policing that came all the way from Bonnie Vale and other SAPs members that they need to go home, because there are too many people. And so they were left with about 20 members that had to continue to search and now an operation like that.

00:02:29:04 – 00:03:00:00 Ian Cameron: You use every single resource effectively. It doesn’t help that you’ve got hundreds of people that are trampling a scene. I understand that, but I can’t see how you would take these more specialized units and send them away. I mean, it’s extra vehicles, extra manpower. It just gives them way more capacity. So that doesn’t make sense to me either.

00:03:00:02 – 00:07:21:00 Ian Cameron: I think that gives you kind of an overview, but this is the reality that so many cops face is exactly this incident that happened. And I think many people take good people like Sergeant Mahoney for granted because we kind of follow the narrative that all police are bad or that all police don’t do their job, and it’s simply not true. I’m the first one to call out the police for not doing their job people know that, but I can tell you. And I dealt with thousands of them. I’ve got hundreds, if not more cops that speak to me. Well, I can’t speak to a hundred a day, but hundreds that that contact me, that speak with me, that ask for help, that share information. And I can tell you that there are people with remarkable and impeccable integrity, and my heart bleeds for the wife, and the family of Sergeant Mahoney today. Because when I spoke to some of the colleagues earlier today, I could hear that they are absolutely heartbroken. And if we looked at Constable Ashwin Pedro that was killed last year in the Cape Flats in in Grassy Park, same thing, same kind of situation. And, also show up with his own service, but still. So we need to, I guess, question training as well. But in this specific regard, if this was an experienced officer, so we don’t know all the circumstances. All I can say is that we need to cherish the good cops out there because there are many and we should never, ever take them for granted.

00:07:21:00 – 00:07:21:00 Chris Steyn: Well with such horrific working conditions. Is it any wonder so many South African police men are dying on duty? Just run the statistics for us Ian, please.

00:07:21:00 – 00:07:47:07 Ian Cameron: So I think to give you an idea, if we go on the average from 2023, I mean in the last seven months or the first seven months of the new financial year in 2023. So it started in April. About 70 police officers had been killed before December. So up until the end of November. So that if you look at that number, you can go on about ten cops per month that appear has terrific circumstances to work in.

00:07:47:07 – 00:08:20:11 Ian Cameron: And remember, we then look at what 30,000, 31,000 murders per year. Now, if you go look at the police and, and, you know, public ratio, it’s severely skewed. We’ve got a huge shortage of cops. We’ve got a huge shortage of investigative capacity. So they are completely overstretched in what they do. If we look at, again, 2023 is a good example of an entire year, but just for a three-month period between July and September, a total of 35 cops were killed.

00:08:20:11 – 00:08:48:17 Ian Cameron: So that’s over ten per month. And, you know. Yeah, it just I almost get emotional about it. It really bothers me that we’ve got ministers and certain politicians getting unfair protection while people on the ground have nothing and while the cops that are meant to and that are sent into communities that really face serious, dangerous situations aren’t resourced the way they should.

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00:08:48:19 – 00:09:17:15 Ian Cameron: So, yo, I just want to when I call on people to do what you can to support your local police. I understand that there’s a lot of, of trouble in the police and that it is very broken, but I always encourage people on a cold winter’s night, if you can take a few cups of soup and to a nightshift and just say thank you to them, you know, check in every now and then to a charge office once a month and take them a cold bottle of cold drink, to the cops in the charge office.

00:09:17:15 – 00:09:36:01 Ian Cameron: But but be there for your cops and and see what you can do to make their ride a little bit smoother. Because I can tell you one thing. One of the biggest inspirations that I have of people that give me hope is members in the South African police. It is the members that that carry on to hang in.

00:09:36:03 – 00:09:53:10 Ian Cameron: I always say this to my wife. I said to her if they are able to still hang in there, then I’ve got I don’t have much to complain about if they are able to carry on and if they still have the integrity that they have, then certainly I can push a little bit harder and still carry on doing what I do.

00:09:53:12 – 00:09:56:22 Ian Cameron: So I think we need to salute them and we need to honor them.

00:09:57:00 – 00:10:10:08 Chris Steyn: Thank you. That was Ian Cameron, crime fighter and member of the Democratic Alliance, speaking to BizNews about the tragic death of yet another policeman on duty. Thank you, Ian. I’m Chris Steyn.

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