Taxpayers cough up R1bn for payouts in cases against the police

2015-07-27 12:42
A police officer sits in a casper outside the Marikana mine in the North West. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

A police officer sits in a casper outside the Marikana mine in the North West. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Taxpayers have coughed up more than R860 million over the past six years for payouts following civil claims against members of the South African Police Service.

If settlement agreements entered into by the police since 2011 are also included, the amount increases to more than R1.04 billion.

The SAPS’ annual contingency for civil claims in the past financial year was more than R312 billion. It was recently referred to in Parliament as “a safety net for police officers who can make or break as they like”.

National police spokesperson, Brigadier Vish Naidoo, said: “Police officers are deployed in a violent society where they must fight crime. They also deserve to be protected.”

The police must be defended with money from the state treasury because the claims rose from actions while they were on duty, Naidoo said.

Naidoo, who did not want to elaborate on the legal costs, said an internal unit had been formed to handle internal disciplinary cases timeously.

He also referred to the nature of police work, saying that officers could not be expected to react with a soft approach when they were faced with AK-47s. “There are situations where fire must be answered with fire,” he said.

SAPS annual reports and parliamentary answers from Police Minister Nathi Nhleko showed that, in the 2009-2010 financial year, police forked out about R89 million in legal fees. By March this year, it had risen to more than R278 million.

The annual reports also showed that most of the claims made against the police were for general police action behaviour during arrests, shootings and car accidents.

In 2012, it was reported that an internal police audit showed more than 27 000 police officers – from nearly 157 000 who sat for tests to handle firearms – failed. The SAPS annual report for the financial year 2011-2012 showed the largest payout for claims (about R12.7 million) was for shootings.

Other big payouts were for car accidents.

In the 2010-2011 financial year, when the driving licence requirement for new recruits was suspended, the claim payouts were about R10 million. The requirement has since been reinstated.

Gareth Newham, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said that the rising number in civil claims showed that the public would rather go the legal route than approach the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, because of the duration of investigations by the directorate.

Democratic Alliance member of Parliament Dianne Kohler Barnard said: “It can take years for a victim of police action to get compensation through the courts because the department has a virtually unlimited budget with which it can appeal.

“There are 1448 sentenced criminals in the police service. This creates the impression crime is okay as long as you wear a police badge.”

Read more on:    nathi nhleko  |  police

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.