Police need anti-corruption unit - ISS

2011-09-01 22:44
Johannesburg - An independent specialised anti-corruption unit is needed to deal with corruption in the police, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said in a report released on Thursday.

"This unit must consist of the best and brightest police members," reads the report, distributed at the launch of a campaign by the ISS to encourage reporting corruption in the police, and to praise professionalism.

The Hawks have been filling this investigative task by carrying out lifestyle audits and investigating complaints against officers above the rank of colonel, with a small staff.

But, a Constitutional Court ruling earlier this year called its legality into question due to how the national police commissioner is appointed, so it's existence was uncertain.

Head of the crime and justice project at the ISS, Gareth Newham, said that although a problem, corruption in South Africa's police was not systemic.

Statistics on complaints of corruption were not publicly available, but in the police annual report for 2009/2010, 362 police staff were charged under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, with 193 being suspended.

This was 0.002% of a workforce of 190 199 in March 2010, according to the police report.

Research on public experiences shows the majority of police accused of corruption or other offences escape detection.

The ISS's own interviews with 150 people found that 50 had had direct experience of corruption with a police officer, but only one had tried to report it.

That complaint was ignored.

Corruption did not "start in 1994", Newham said. This was evident in the trial record of apartheid-era security branch officer Eugene de Kock, which includes details of insurance and informer fee fraud.

Corruption was also not just caused by individuals, but by environmental factors and the overall integrity of the police and its leadership.

Low point

The police had an anti-corruption unit with 250 members, but this was closed down in 2002 by former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi. This was in spite of the police's strategic plan, according to which the biggest obstacle in achieving its goals was corruption.

"In retrospect it is clear that this lack of integrity extended to the top of the organisation," the report continues.

Parliamentary minutes from a 2001 presentation to the safety and security portfolio suggest Selebi and other senior officers misled Parliament on corruption by saying it wasn't possible to compare the police's service integrity framework to anti-corruption strategies abroad.

This was because comparable strategies didn't exist, and that corruption was decreasing.

The report, compiled by Newham and colleague Andrew Faull, continued that in spite of these misleading statements, senior police leadership was verbal about rooting out corruption, but didn't follow up with significant action.

Selebi's eventual corruption conviction was a "low point" and tainted the police.

Current commissioner General Bheki Cele's signing off on a controversial lease deal was also problematic in terms of maintaining integrity, they found, as was the arrest and later dropping of charges against a journalist who reported this.

The ISS said one of the best ways to prevent corruption was to create systems through which employees could safely expose it, and to foster this.

Signs of being in danger of tipping towards corruption include poor management of personal finances, stress, narcotics abuse and planting evidence to get a criminal off the streets.

Situations which can cause corruption are policing of the drug dealing and sex work industries, undocumented migrants and unregistered enterprises - cases where each party stands to benefit from the transaction.

The ISS encouraged community participation in the project to report corruption.

It has set up a Facebook page and Twitter feed which will provide information on how to go about increasing reporting.

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.
Read more on:    police  |  jackie selebi  |  eugene de kock  |  corruption

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Wallabies win, Boks to face Wales
Scots beat Samoa, end Japan's dream
Woodcock's career ended by injury
Major Payne as Ireland lose star centre
Traffic Alerts

The phrase for today is:”Out of the blue.” Expect the unexpected and work with the changeable energy. Your intuition is heightened...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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.


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.