Umm Muhammed Umar
More than 400 Gauteng police officers are under investigation for various crimes. MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, says around 459 police officers have criminal cases against them, ranging from reckless driving to attempted murder, and robbery. The information was revealed in a written reply to questions tabled by the DA’s Michael Shackleton in the in the Gauteng provincial legislature.
This is definitely not the message citizens need to hear – that those supposed to protect them, themselves face criminal charges. Shackleton told Radio Islam that he also learned that amongst the charges, were assisting criminals to escape from prison, as well as domestic violence. He said that while there were police officers that are honest, professional, and that genuinely do their best to help citizens every day, but that SAPS has been shown, year after year, in recent times, to be the least trusted of all government entities across South Africa. He said that the DA has been calling for an honest and professional police service for an untold length of time now, adding, “you have to ask obviously, if the police are committing crimes themselves what is the point of having a police service?”
Shackleton said it was shocking that police are the very people who were supposed to be setting an example of how women and children should be protected against abuse, but cannot be expected to do so when they face domestic violence charges themselves.
Three police stations reportedly have the most offenders: Tsakane, Krugersdorp, and Benoni (together with Hekpoort), with a number of police officers under investigation.
Shackelton said that there were numerous ways of placing pressure on the SAPS provincially and nationally, and on the on MEC Mazibuko as well as on the Provincial Police Commissioner to ensure that these types of things don’t ever happen again. He said that out of the 459 SAPS officers who currently have cases opened against them only four have been suspended. He added, “and how many cases were finalized in the previous financial year? The answer was only 11. And out of these 11, 6 resulted in convictions.” This does not create confidence in the in the police.
In Shackleton’s opinion, the police service needs a complete haul. He said, “We in the DA say that the police certainly have too many chiefs and too few Indians, and what we mean by that is ……over the next three years the number of SAPS officers is going to still decrease, whilst the people up at the up at the top, those posts are not [substantially] decreased.” He also said that there had to be some sort of inculcation, perhaps of certain values and principles, about what it meant to be a police officer. A police officer should be someone whom any member of the community could trust. Shackleton said, “at its core level, it’s who you turn to for help, it’s who you turn to for protection.”
Meanwhile, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), meant to be independent of the police, to deal with cases of police brutality, was dramatically under resourced. Shackelton said, “If they finalize only a few cases per year, they are actually happy and they say that it’s a remarkable success, because they are so incredibly underfunded and under resourced.”