A report by the Sunday Times has detailed the pathetic state of the SAPS’s communications infrastructure in Gauteng.
This has resulted in nearly 50% of calls to the 10111 emergency number not being attended to, or police arriving late at scene.
One of the causes of this problem is the destruction and theft of police radio infrastructure in Gauteng, said the South African Policing Union.
“Over 40% of the province’s radio masts, which link the 10111 emergency call centre in Midrand and police stations to officers on the road, have been destroyed,” stated the report.
Vandals have reportedly stripped radio masts for their copper cables and generators, with 25 masts covering the Joburg and Pretoria CBDs destroyed as a result.
The SAPS said they could not comment on operational information, but admitted there were “glitches” in their system.
“Technical problems are being experienced and attended to from time to time,” said the SAPS.
10111 operators who spoke to the publication said that the situation is dire, and large parts of Gauteng are in “radio darkness”.
This means that police units do not have radio access at times, with certain masts being down since October 2018.
A flying squad officer added that doing their job involved a “daily guess” as to whether their radios would work.
“We know crimes are being committed but don’t know where. We hope our colleagues who are in an area where there is radio signal have the time to phone or WhatsApp if something happens,” stated an officer.
This can result in delays of over 30 minutes in police getting to the scene of a crime. For crimes like hijacking and armed robberies, this sees criminals escaping with ease.
The latest reports on the 10111 service in Gauteng follow a similar incident in the Western Cape in 2015.
It was found at the time that a scanner which tracks all emergency calls to the police’s 10111 call centre in the province had not been working for two years.
The DA has also voiced concern over the state of the 10111 emergency number service in recent years. In the Western Cape in 2015, the number of abandoned calls per year was counted as 24% – roughly 295,000 calls.