Police can't be trusted to probe corruption

13 December 2017 - 05:00 By The Times Editorial
Kgomotso Phahlane.
Kgomotso Phahlane.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

South Africans still reeling from the damning revelations coming out of the Steinhoff scandal are having to wrap their heads around another doozy.

This time it is in more familiar territory, involving police procurement, with the former acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane taking the spotlight.

The details are alarming.

The Times reported last week that a house belonging to Phahlane - currently suspended on a string of allegations - was raided by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate. The police watchdog body also raided seven houses belonging to his alleged accomplices. Unused SAPS security tags worth R374-million were found hidden at a construction site and a vehicle was seized at Phahlane's sister's house.

An Ipid investigation report alleges there was wholesale price inflation by a private company associated with JSE-listed EOH, which has seen its share price plummet at Steinhoff-like levels, although it was recovering on Tuesday.

Ipid claims the police were paying up to 3000% more than the actual price for items, including R500,000 for 500 disposable face masks, R1.4-million for latex gloves and R1.6-million for distilled water.

The police procurement scandal is a vivid reminder of how corruption works: it is not the exclusive domain of state officials but more commonly involves the interests of other parties, often in the private sector, who are no innocent lambs either.

The corruption contagion has spread like a cancer in tandem with the gutting of law-enforcement in the service of political interests.

Who can trust the police to investigate crimes of corruption when those that run the force are apparently morally bankrupt and without respect for the law?