Phiyega didn't invent crime - SAPS

2015-01-28 15:51
National police commissioner Riah Phiyega. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Pretoria - Blaming national police chief Riah Phiyega for the crime perpetrated by police officers is wrong, her spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"Since the national commissioner started three years ago, she has been hard at work to reform the SA Police Service. The record is out there to speak for itself," Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale said in Pretoria.

Makgale arrived at AfriForum premises in Pretoria, shortly after the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) released a report alleging massive police officers' involvement in serious violent crime.

"Simply because there are police officers who commit crime, therefore, it is the national commissioner's fault? She is the one who invented this criminality within the SAPS?" said Makgale.

"You are educated people, I am sure you will be able to come to a different conclusion. The national commissioner didn't invent crime within the SAPS. She has been very vocal about issues of integrity."

He said under Phiyega's leadership, audit and vetting processes like checking criminal records of SAPS senior members have been initiated.

"The issues of criminality within the SAPS are not swept under the carpet. They are dealt with openly and if people have any questions, we are more than happy to come sit and discuss those issues," said Makgale.

"We have a problem when people read newspapers and then they draw all these wide-ranging conclusions that are not informed by research but by political interests."

The SAIRR report, titled "Broken Blue Line 2", is a follow-up on the initial project released in 2011.

"Police officers will often use their policing powers, as well as official equipment, to perpetrate crimes. In the case of cloned officers, criminal gangs appear to benefit from internal support from real officers," said SAIRR chief executive Frans Cronje.

"It is with good reason that members of the public often do not trust the police and that some are even afraid of the police. South Africans can no longer be sure that when reporting a crime they are not reporting to a criminal in uniform."

Cronje said the criminal officers clearly showed their police identity to the victims.

"We don't see many cases where the police officers disguise themselves as normal criminals. The officers realise that their official status and the knowledge of that status to the victims mean the offence is less likely to be reported," he said.

"If they were run-of-the-mill robbers, chances are greater that the victims would fight back or try to shoot the assailants. When officers are involved there is a far greater degree of fear."

Female victims

Cronje said women often fell victim to the rogue officers.

"We think there is a clear pattern that male police officers use their authority to force women to submit to their sexual demands."

He said many of the rape cases took place in police vehicles and stations.

The wayward police officers were also hugely involved in business robberies, targeting mainly foreign-owned firms.

Makgale said the SAIRR report was creating a wrong impression about the police.

"The difficulty we have with this report is that one would read a newspaper and draw certain inferences. They are saying because police officer so and so was arrested and it appeared in the newspaper therefore it means each and every police officer you see in the street is a potential rapist, is going to rob or kill you," said Makgale.

"We were not surprised when they came to present [the report] to us. We know that it is funded by an institution that has made it publicly known that they are opposed to the work being done to improve the SAPS."

The SAIRR study was funded by AfriForum. Makgale said Phiyega was opposed to having her photograph on the cover of the report.

"The national commissioner felt that this report shouldn't be associated with her, and the SAPS. When you are holding public office one has to understand that people say things even if they are not true," said Makgale.

Read more on:    police  |  afriforum  |  sairr  |  riah phiyega  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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