Police still without power 20 years on

THE Ntsikeni police station in Mzimkhulu has been without "proper electricity" for 20 years.

A generator that was used has been damaged, forcing officers to work by candlelight. The station serves more than 5000 people. The holding cells are in a shocking condition, with the roof rotting away. This has allegedly allowed inmates to walk free.

The shocking revelations were tabled before a senior oversight committee briefing for members of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in Kokstad yesterday.

The committee is assessing the state of security readiness ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

"There were several escapes in which inmates dug through the walls and walked away," station commander Canisius Maduna told the committee.

"The police station has been without electricity for more than 20 years. It has only one phone and fax line, which uses solar energy. The system jams frequently due to the high volume of faxes and incoming calls.

"Our only generator is broken. We have been using candles for the past six weeks," Maduna said.

"When one makes a phone call there is no privacy since the solar system line works like a radiophone. When members of the community phone and complain about the police, other members are able to listen, making it difficult for one to follow up."

He said they had hoped their problems would be resolved now that Umzimkhulu was incorporated into KwaZulu-Natal.

MPL Vivienne Tambo promised to compile a report that she would hand over to KwaZulu-Natal community safety MEC Willies Mchunu.