Police to pay R40m over stolen cash

2013-07-14 14:00

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Johannesburg - The police have been ordered to repay nearly R40m to a British company after money kept at a police station was stolen, the Sunday Times reported.

"[The] SA Police Service intends to comply with the court order. However it should be noted that the SAPS has applied for leave to appeal certain parts of the judgment," police spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale was quoted by the newspaper on Sunday.

He said the police were still awaiting a court date for the appeal.

The order for repayment was made in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg earlier this year and stems from a heist at OR Tambo airport in 2006.

Six men were convicted in 2012 of stealing a consignment of banknotes worth R100m from an aircraft that arrived from London.

The robbers were subsequently caught and the money recovered. The money was then taken to the Benoni police station to be kept in a safe until an audit was conducted. However, R14m of it was subsequently stolen.

Theft investigation must be reviewed

Judge Nigel Willis ruled that the theft of the money had to be a "simulated break in".

"It is quite clear that this money could only have been taken by police officers. Access to the safe to remove sums of money could only have been achieved through the inside knowledge of police officers."

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was subsequently ordered to pay an amount of just under R40m - which took into account seven years' interest and legal fees.

The court also ruled that national police commissioner Riah Phiyega must relook the theft investigation whereby three officers were originally suspended and charged with the theft, but later had the charges withdrawn.

"Due to a lack of evidence... both the criminal and internal [disciplinary] charges were withdrawn against the suspects.

"General Riah Phiyega is dissatisfied with the manner in which the matter was handled and has instructed that it be revisited immediately," Makgale said.

- SAPA
Read more on:    police
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