The briefing to be held at the Metpol building in Bloemfontein is expected to begin at 10:00. Sempe and Mashinini are expected to not only provide a provincial overview of crime in the Free State, but they will also delve into some of the measures in place designed to deal with the spate of crime.
Gang-related crime has greatly affected communities throughout the province, with the police and the National Prosecuting Authority pledging to prioritise the issue. There has been some notable improvements in this area, with the Bloemfontein High Court handing down hefty sentences to twelve members of the Maroma gang in mid-September. Nine accused were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, three years for the contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA Act) and another three years for defeating the ends of justice. The other three accused were sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for murder plus three years for the contravention of the POCA Act and another three years for defeating the ends of justice.
Park Road police station in Bloemfontein considered one of the busiest police stations in the country according to the number of 17 community related crimes reported, will come under the spotlight during the briefing. Over the 2017/18 period, the police station was ranked sixth out of thirty of the busiest police stations based on the number of serious crimes reported. The recent statistics reveal the station is now at fourth position, implying an increase in crime reported. Despite this, the murder rate in the province has decreased by over 5%, while the national murder rate rose by 3,4%.
The Park Road police station also came under attention in late August when it was revealed the project to have the police station modernised and expanded to the tune of R 82 million had stalled, raising eyebrows about possible irregular tender procurement processes, which the OFM News team probed. The National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure blames the halt on non-performance by a Johannesburg based construction company. Department spokesperson, Zara Nicholson tells OFM News, the main contractor, failed to deliver on timelines set by the Public Works and police resulting in the termination of the contract. It is expected a new contractor will be appointed soon. Following the release of the story, members of the public alluded to the involvement of a well-known Bloemfontein businessman in the project. This is yet to be confirmed.
OFM News/OLEBOGENG MOTSE