Elite cops in bribe sting

2016-06-03 10:18
The Pietermaritzburg police officers have been arrested for allegedly soliciting bribes from a drufgdealer.

The Pietermaritzburg police officers have been arrested for allegedly soliciting bribes from a drufgdealer. (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - Three Pietermaritzburg police officers, part of an elite team tasked with taking down serious and violent criminals, have been ­arrested for allegedly soliciting bribes from a drug dealer.

In a sting operation, the Hawks bust the trio along with an accomplice, who is a ­police reservist, after they allegedly ­demanded R5 000 from a drug dealer they were supposed to arrest.

Instead, they were arrested on Tuesday evening and appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday where they were released on R500 bail each.

The three officers were members of a ­70-strong specialised uMgungungdlovu South cluster task team established by former cluster commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni, who has now been ­transferred to Durban.

Best officers

The team were established earlier this year and, according to a police source, comprised of the cluster’s best officers who were ­mandated to tackle serious and violent crimes, trace wanted suspects and conduct crime prevention operations.

Ironically, the team are also a driving force in a drug awareness campaign to eradicate illegal narcotics from the city, a matter which was seen as a priority by Ngobeni.

The four were arrested in Berg Street after allegedly soliciting bribes from a drug dealer operating at the Matsheni Beer Hall.

Captain Lindiwe Khumalo (47), Sergeant Sibusiso Ngubane (42), Constable Phelelani Nzimande (31) and reservist Constable ­Sibusiso Ngcamu (46) allegedly demanded and received R5 000 from an alleged drug dealer whom they had arrested for the ­possession of Mandrax and Whoonga with a estimated street value of R5 000.

Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Netshiunda said the officers took the money and released the drug dealer.

“Little did they [the officers] know, their actions were spotted by Crime Intelligence members who alerted the Hawks. During their arrest, the officers were found in possession of the cash and drugs inside their official vehicle,” Netshiunda said.

The four are expected to appear in court again on July 8. They face an automatic ­suspension while a departmental ­investigation is under way.

Tip-off

A police source on Thursday told The ­Witness that the officers had allegedly bust the drug dealer “some time ago” but ­demanded a sum of money for his release.

The source said the drug dealer could only offer up about R3 500 and the officers ­allegedly wanted R5 000.

They allegedly said they would return to collect the full amount, the source claimed.

In the interim, it is believed the drug ­dealer tipped off crime intelligence and a sting operation was set up by members of the Hawks.

When the officers went to collect the money on Tuesday, they were caught ­red-handed.

The source said it is unclear if the four are linked to other similar incidents.

Another police source in management said the entire cluster is disappointed by the officers’ alleged actions because they were appointed to “clean up all forms of ­criminality” but instead “became criminals themselves”.

“It is very anti-climactic for cluster task team officers to be involved in crime when they have been doing such good work, ­especially in cleaning the streets of drugs,” the police source said.

“I guess this shows that nobody is above the law and the arrests should serve as an example to other officers who want to put themselves on the other side of the law.”

Read more on:    police  |  pietermaritzburg  |  narcotics  |  corruption  |  crime

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