Hundreds of top cops have criminal records

14 August 2013 - 18:37 By Sapa
SAPS vehicle. File photo.
SAPS vehicle. File photo.
Image: Reuben Goldberg

Several high-ranking police officials are on a list of officers with criminal records, Parliament's police portfolio committee heard on Wednesday.

An audit, which only covered the period prior to January 2010, found 1448 officers had criminal offences, SA Police Service acting deputy national commissioner for human resource development Nkrumah Mazibuko told MPs.

The audit was conducted to find out how many officers with criminal records remained in the service's employ.

MPs shook their heads in disbelief after Mazibuko was pushed to list the ranks of the convicted officers. They included a major-general, 10 brigadiers, 21 colonels, 10 majors, 43 lieutenant-colonels, 163 captains, 84 lieutenants, 716 warrant officers, 267 sergeants, 129 constables, and two personnel officers.

Most of the officers were convicted after joining the service, and none had been dismissed as yet.

"These people are subjected to disciplinary process and then they take the matter up on appeal, and we get an order to reinstate the person," Mazibuko said.

Police members convicted and jailed were automatically fired.

"If that person appeals the sentence... and he gets the sentence reduced maybe to a suspended one by a criminal court, then in terms of our own [police] act such a person is entitled to apply for reinstatement."

MPS said it was unacceptable that police disciplinary procedures were "a mess".

"I thought the requirement of employment is that you should be criminal record free. You are now getting involved with whether a person is sentenced to jail or fined and that's not the issue," Cope MP Mluleki George said.

"The issue is if a person is found guilty in a court of law it means he has a criminal record. So why are they keeping you in the service if that's what your employment criteria says?"

Mazibuko conceded the police's capacity to deal with convicts in their own ranks was not what it should be. Police management was trying to overhaul the disciplinary regime to deal with the problem.

It intended establishing a board of fitness to determine if officers with criminal records should remain on duty.

MPs were not happy with the responses. Some insisted on immediate action against the 1448 officers.

"I share the committee's concerns that we are expected to, and South Africa is expected to, sit back and accept that 1448 identified criminals must still be paid for another year with taxpayer's money, must still carry a firearm, and must still wear the blue which should be worn with pride," committee chairwoman Annelize van Wyk said.