Thousands of convicted criminals in the police, says Bheki Cele

08 April 2019 - 17:45 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
Police minister Bheki Cele.
Police minister Bheki Cele.

A whopping 4,174 members of the police have criminal records, for a variety of crimes such as assault, theft, kidnapping and fraud.

This was revealed in a parliamentary reply by police minister Bheki Cele, who also told parliament that among them were 32 senior managers who had convictions for crimes such as fraud, public violence and assault.

Among the rank and file of the SAPS were officers convicted for assault, theft, kidnapping and murder. In his written response, Cele did not comment specifically on murders but their existence emerged in the statistical tables attached to his response.

He was responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard who asked about the number of employees at senior management level who had criminal records. In another question she asked for numbers and a breakdown of all the types of crimes that SAPS members were convicted of.

Of the 32 senior managers, three were convicted for offences relating to the contravention of the Arms and Ammunition Act and the Firearms Control Act and 19 for contravening road traffic legislation. Three were convicted of contravening internal security legislation, seven had common law-related offences such as fraud, public violence, contempt of court, malicious damage to property and assault respectively and one member had an offence related to the contravention of liquor legislation - over and above a traffic offence.

Cele declined to name the affected officers.

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"The SAPS is not in a position to provide the information, since it contains personal information relating to the members concerned and the disclosure will constitute an unreasonable violation of privacy," he said.

In breaking down the offences among the rank and file, Cele did not give specific numbers but only percentages. But in all divisions, the percentage of the contravention of the Road Traffic Act far outweighed other offences.

In the visible policing divisions, for instance, 69 members had offences against their names and 53.26% of those offences related to contravening the Road Traffic Act.

These were followed by assault [16.30%], contravention of the Arms and Ammunition Act [6.52%] and theft at 4.35%. Fraud [2.17%] and murder [1.09%] were also listed among the offences committed by officers in this division.

In the protection and security services division, 78 members had criminal offences against their names and murder was listed as 0.86% of the offences in the division and "high treason" at 4.31%.

In a provincial breakdown, murder appeared under the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng.

Cele's response also revealed that the directorate of priority crime investigation, commonly known as the Hawks, had 17 members with offences against their names. The majority [51.5%] of these related to contravention of road traffic legislation, while others related to assault [15.15%], fraud [12.12%] and attempted murder [3.03%].

The office of the national commissioner of police Khehla Sitole was not spared. A total of 19 members there had offences against their names, ranging from traffic offences [45.83%], to contravention of the arms and ammunition act [16.67%], theft [8.33%], assault [4.17%], crimen injuria [4.17%] and contravention of the Domestic Violence Act [4.17%].

It was not clear from Cele's response whether disciplinary action had been taken.