SAPS plans new anti-graft strategy

2011-09-13 18:53

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Cape Town - Police management will launch a new anti-corruption strategy on December 9 this year, MPs heard on Tuesday.

Briefing Parliament's police portfolio committee, chief operations officer Lieutenant General Bonang Mgwenya said corruption and fraud by police officers had been "prioritised as a strategic risk".

The new strategy - built on prevention, detection, investigation and resolution - was set to be approved by the police national management forum before the end of this month.

"Among its aims is to develop a culture in the SA Police Service that is professional and does not tolerate corruption and criminality," Mgwenya said.

"The planned launch of the anti-corruption strategy... is on December 9. An ethics and integrity indaba is planned to be held by March [next year]."

Mgwenya told the committee that 479 SAPS members were facing charges.

"A total of 479 departmental charges or disciplinary cases against SAPS members were recorded in 2010/2011."

She was not able to immediately respond to questions on whether the figures represented the "tip of the iceberg" when it came to corruption within SAPS ranks. She was also unable to say how the 479 figure broke down across provinces, or how many arrests were included in the total.

"We humbly request... we be allowed to forward information on this at a later stage," Mgwenya said.

'Widespread and systemic'

The figure of 479 meant less than a quarter of a percent of the more than 190 000 SAPS members were facing corruption charges.

This was at odds with an Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS) internal study, carried out at three Gauteng police stations in 2009. This study revealed that 85% of police officers believed corruption to be a "major problem" in the police.

Briefing the committee on Tuesday, ISS crime and justice programme head Gareth Newham said while the police could not be said to be "a corrupt organisation", various sources suggested corruption was "widespread and systemic".

"Numerous surveys of civilians and of police suggest perceptions, experiences and knowledge of widespread corruption."

The SAPS policy advisory council had said the police had insufficient capacity to investigate corruption.

"It also noted that discipline was poor, codes of conduct and ethics were not adhered to and that disciplinary issues were not dealt with timeously," Newham said.

"[Further], various studies show abuse and corruption targeting specific groups such as sex workers and foreign nationals."

Lifestyle audits and "sting operations" were among the most pro-active ways of detecting police corruption.

"Because you can't wait for reports... police corruption is very under-reported," Newham said.

Lawson Naidoo, of the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution, called for a "dedicated independent agency" to tackle corruption in South Africa. Such a body should have a three-pronged mandate, including the ability to investigate and refer cases for prosecution, as well as prevention and education, he told the committee.

"But whatever model chosen... the single-most important factor in sustaining an independent agency is the existence of political will and support for the agency," he said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    police  |  iss  |  corruption
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