Convicted officers downplay threats fears

2011-01-12 00:00

ALLEGATIONS that witnesses at the hearing over the Mountain Rise police station crime statistics manipulation fear for their lives, after 10 police officers they testified against were found guilty, were downplayed yesterday.

Police officers who testified against their colleagues during a disciplinary hearing held in Pietermaritzburg last year said the decision to give the officers a “six months suspended dismissal” has left those who testified vulnerable to threats.

Initially 11 police officers, including controversial former Mountain Rise commander Hariram Badul, were charged in 2009. Badul was later dropped from the hearing when he retired from the police force.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Phindile Radebe said yesterday that nine defendants were found guilty on December 17. She could not say what happened to the 10th.

About intimidation, she said: “We are not of the opinion that witnesses will be intimidated. However, if any intimidation does take place it will be dealt with immediately.”

She said the officers have not been returned to the police station, but were at various station in the midlands area.

The officers said they know who the whistleblowers are, and that they are not on speaking terms with them.

“There is no one among us who is intimidating them. But at the same time we are no longer on speaking terms with them for making false allegations against us.

“If we wanted to harm them we would have done that a long time ago. We have been to ceremonies with them and if we wanted to do something to them we would do it after consuming alcohol,” said one officer.

They said the charges against them were as a result of “a personal vendetta and jealousy”.

“He is lazy and he could not perform his duty. He came up with the allegations after he had been charged for failing to perform his duty,” said another officer about one whistleblower.

The officers said they are aggrieved to have been found guilty of manipulating crime statistics and are preparing to appeal the verdict.

“On the day of the final decision a large number of National Intervention Unit members were brought in to guard us as if we were going to rebel. Throughout the hearing we co-operated.

“I’m even considering suing for my reputation. Our families were also affected by this,” the officer said.

Radebe has denied that she switched off her cellphone when she was supposed to provide The Witness with a response on the matter on Monday. She said she might have been travelling in an area that did not have network coverage.

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