Police paid more than R209 million in claims – Mthethwa

2013-06-11 17:07

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The police paid out more than R209 million in damages in civil claims in the past financial year, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has revealed.

Responding to a parliamentary question today, Mthethwa said this sum consisted of 4166 payments to civil litigants, and included compensation for violent abuse at the hands of the police.

"Some of the cases include wrongful arrests, rape, attempted rape, grievous bodily harm, corruption and assault," he added in a statement.

The minister has repeatedly been criticised by the opposition for the high volume of lawsuits brought against the police.

Mthethwa said today a report outlining the causes and possible solutions to the problem had been handed to the SA Police Service (SAPS) national management forum.

"A concerted effort" was being made to encourage police officers to abide by the police code of conduct.

Mthethwa said this included improving the investigation of police accused of corruption, educating all recruits on the code, and stressing the importance of operating within the framework of the law.

Mthethwa conceded the volume of civil claims was "enormous" and harmed the police's image.

"[The] increases in civil claims lodged as well as the resultant negative publicity do negatively affect the image of SAPS and this naturally is of concern.

"I have on various occasions reiterated that we will not tolerate police officers who abuse the law, whether from wrongful arrests or assault [of] any person," he said.

"That is why we have now strengthened civilian oversight of the police through the Independent Police Investigative Directorate and the Civilian Secretariat for Police."

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