Police managers lift veil on officers behaving badly across SA

26 May 2021 - 16:39
Of 450 finalised cases, 90 officers were dismissed while 19 of them resigned before the completion of their cases. A total of 36 cases were withdrawn while 64 officers were found to be not guilty. File photo.
Of 450 finalised cases, 90 officers were dismissed while 19 of them resigned before the completion of their cases. A total of 36 cases were withdrawn while 64 officers were found to be not guilty. File photo.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Police top brass on Wednesday laid bare a lack of discipline which tainted the image of the SAPS during the 2020/2021 financial year.

They also assured citizens that training would be the main focus of their turnaround strategy in an effort to reduce cases related to fraud, corruption, theft, sexual assault, officers doing business with the state and general misconduct within the service.

“As the SAPS we do acknowledge the negative affect of disciplinary processes therefore in mitigation the following measures are being prioritised for implementation and training of employees at all levels,” said Lt-Gen Lineo Ntshiea.

Ntshiea, divisional commissioner for human resources management, delivered a damning report to parliament's portfolio committee on police, detailing acts of misconduct and measures being taken to deal with ill-discipline.

During the 2020/2021 financial year, it was revealed that there were 4,087 cases reported, involving 5,708 members.

“Of the 4,087, a total of 686 are Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) related cases involving 1,270 members. There are 3,401 other cases relating to corruption, irregular expenditure related cases as well as sexual assault.” She said of the 3,401 cases, 271 members had been  suspended and 167 employees were dismissed.

On the 686 Ipid related cases, 12 members had been suspended while 22 were dismissed.

The types of crimes committed include four deaths in police custody, 62 people killed as a result of police action, 25 cases of rape by an officer and four people raped while in police custody.

On Covid-19 related cases, Ntshiea said 550 cases were reported after the lockdown regulations were promulgated in 2020.

At the beginning of the pandemic, South Africans expressed concerns at the heavy-handedness of the police. There were instances, particularly in townships, where people were killed by police.

Most recently, the police were condemned for shooting an innocent bystander, Mthokozisi Ntumba. The father of three was caught in the crossfire between protesting Wits University students and the police earlier this year.

Ntshiea said in her presentation, “We recorded 550 cases where police officers contravened the Covid-19 regulations. We initiated 543 cases, and we managed to finalise 450, with 107 cases pending.”  

The ranks of members involved in the Covid-19 related cases were 231 constables, 192 sergeants, 66 warrant officers, 23 captains, nine lieutenant-generals, two colonels, one brigadier and a major-general.

“The types of cases included 91 of corruption, 40 of those were defeating the ends of justice, 49 were incidences where the police failed to confine to a place of residence, one case failed to wear a mask and three cases of failing to quarantine.

“There was one case of illegal hunting and escaping lawful arrest, two issued illegal permits, 55 were liquor related, lying about having Covid-19, possession of dagga, drugs and counterfeit goods, and unlicensed firearms.”

She said of the 450 finalised cases, 90 officers were dismissed while 19 of them terminated their services before the completion of their cases. A total of 36 cases were withdrawn while 64 officers were found not guilty. Others were suspended.

In general, the Free State recorded the most cases, followed by Gauteng and the Western Cape.

The crime intelligence division, along with the visible policing and forensic services recorded the most cases, said Ntshiea adding that the most prevalent acts of misconduct were assault, corruption, aiding an escape and theft.

In irregular expenditure related incidences, there were 113 recorded cases involving 156 employees. A total of 99 cases were finalised with 14 cases having pending outcomes.

On fruitless and wasteful expenditure, Ntshiea said 550 cases were reported and 214 officials were linked to them. There are 336 cases that are pending. Most offenders in this regard were employees hired in terms of the Public Service Act.

On members doing business with the state, she said this was against the law.

“There were 78 of those employees that they could find. Of those only 36 cases were recommended for corrective action.” Sergeants were the highest offenders in doing business with the state.

There were 209 employees found to illegally own taxis.

On sexual harassment cases, she said 30 were reported involving 31 employees.

Of that, 18 cases were finalised with warrant officers being the main transgressors. Twelve cases are still pending disciplinary proceedings.

“We do admit that there was a delay in terms of finalising some of the cases and the reason is that sometimes we can get court applications interdicting the process and disciplinary proceedings being handled externally.

“Last year we also placed a moratorium on disciplinary hearings because of the Covid-19 restrictions of movement so we could not proceed early last year. We started about August or September.”

Cases involving senior managers dragged when they obtained legal representatives and in some instances members challenged the outcome of the disciplinary through the arbitration process.

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