SOWETO – Three police officers who turned away Katlego Joja’s family when they tried to report the girl missing will be served with suspension letters on Monday.
The Mamelodi West officers told the family to come back after the 10-year-old had been missing for 24-hours.
Three days later, Katlego’s body was found floating in a river.
Officials say they are still waiting for final postmortem results.
Gauteng officials are not only promising action but an overhaul of the personnel at Mamelodi West Police Station.
“We believe the family and, from our investigation, we know that there are about three people who are involved who actually misled the family,” says Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, Gauteng Community Safety MEC.
He says the officers will be served with suspension notices on Monday.
Nkosi-Malobane goes on: “There are also two seniors who were supposed to monitor the work of those three officers but did not. They will also be removed from the station and taken elsewhere. But we are also going to do what the community has requested us to do – those that have been with the station for five years and over [will be] be removed as well and redeployed.
Residents paint a picture of a police station with untrusted and unreliable officers, who constantly fail the people they’re supposed to be protecting.
“Children go missing, and they are not safe. They are raped and murdered. We help in ensuring that our children are kept safe,” says Thani Khoza, a Mamelodi resident.
According to another resident, Leonie Mjoli: “The police’s service is actually quite concerning. You open a case, and they will SMS you the details of the investigating officer, but you never hear from them, and you even forget that you once opened a case. Eventually, when they call you, they will ask you for a lead.”
Their sentiments are shared by the social justice group Not in My Name.
According to Themba Masango of the #NotInMyName campaign: “There needs to be proper training, proper competence that’s provided at police stations. That’s why we are launching a campaign to monitor police stations nationwide.”
Officials say this meeting with residents is one of many they’ll be having across the province.