Corrupt cops not caught

2014-04-28 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL police may have recorded the highest number of incidents of corruption within the force, but a leading security analyst believes that officers still have a very low risk of being caught.

A detailed breakdown of the crimes committed by police has revealed that more crimes by police are reported in urban areas compared to the rural hinterland. A KZN criminologist believes this is largely due to access to technology and the rural population tending to use the tribal court system prior to escalating their matters further.

Last week, The Witness reported that, according to police watchdog IPID’s 2012/13 annual report, 47% of complaints laid against alleged corrupt police officers came from KwaZulu-Natal. The report also ranked the province among the highest in the country when it came to police involved in criminal activity, with more than 100 people killed by the police, at least two dozen incidents of rape and nearly 10 incidents of reported torture.

Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies said, while it would be difficult to say why more cases were reported in KZN, it would in no way mean the province is more or less corrupt than the rest of the country.

“The reasons that KZN could see the largest number of reports to the IPID is simply because the police are less likely to take precautions when soliciting bribes as they realise that the chance of being effectively investigated and sanctioned, even if they do get reported, is very low. Given the small number of police officials dismissed or convicted for corruption confirms that being involved in corruption is very low risk for SAPS officers in this province,” said Newham.

He said in KZN there existed a sense that “well-connected individuals are protected from being investigated and prosecuted for corruption”.

“Police officers will know this and it will result in more of them taking chances at soliciting bribes than would be the case if they knew that tackling corruption was taken seriously,” said Newham.

University of Zululand criminologist Professor Johann Ras said the reason why more cases of police criminal activity are reported in large towns is largely to do with the residents having access to technology. “While urban dwellers may be more educated, rural people are also aware of these rights, but tend to try and resolve issues through the tribal court system or seek advice from amakhosi before reporting an incident to the likes of IPID,” said Ras.

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