Whoonga addict allegedly sets KZN police cell alight

The damaged walls in one of the holding cells at Ntambanana SAPS after the fire. Picture: Supplied

The damaged walls in one of the holding cells at Ntambanana SAPS after the fire. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 29, 2024


Durban — Angry community members want law enforcement to take action against a drug addict offender who allegedly set fire to a holding cell at the SAPS Ntambanana in KwaZulu-Natal, on Friday.

It is alleged that the detainee, accused of rape and two counts of murder, was transferred from the Empangeni SAPS to Ntambanana a month ago.

A source said that since the offender was detained, he kept complaining about being transferred to the Ntambanana SAPS.

The source claimed that the suspect was a whoonga addict.

“On Wednesday, he threatened some officers and his inmates about burning down the prison. The next day, the community noticed flames coming out of the cell windows.

“Both the police and residents extinguished the fire using buckets of water. They stopped it from spreading and damaging the entire building,” the source said.

Mattresses, pillows and blankets caught fire in one of the three cells. The remainder of the detainees were moved to other cells.

BLANKETS, mattresses and pillows damaged by the fire. Picture: Supplied

Community Policing Forum chairperson Thamisanqa Hopewell Ngcobo blamed the authorities for transferring the offender: “This would not have happened they hadn’t moved the detainee from Empangeni. We are still trying to probe why he was taken to Ntambanana.

“What disheartens community members is that the local police station was set alight while it faces infrastructure issues, a water crisis, resource shortages, and staffing problems which have a severe impact on the efficient delivery of police services in the area,” he said.

He expressed concern about neglected police stations in rural areas and urged the government to “rescue” officers working in unsatisfactory conditions.

“The role of the SAPS is to safeguard all communities in the country but the sad reality is that rural communities are neglected and critically vulnerable to fight crime.

“What happened in Ntambanana indicates that the lives of police officers working in such bad conditions are not safe,” he added.

NTAMBANANA police station where a holding cell was allegedly set alight by a whoonga addict detainee on Thursday. Picture: Supplied

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala said the matter was under investigation by Ntambanana SAPS.

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