Cops need to jack up integrity

2013-02-24 10:00

The fight against crime in South Africa will continue to suffer until the top brass recognise that the technical skills of the police are as important as the perception of integrity the cops enjoy in the eyes of the public.

As things stand, the police are lagging behind on both scores.

Reports this week that Hilton Botha, the officer investigating the Reeva Steenkamp murder charge, is himself facing criminal charges does not bode well for the already ailing public image of the police.

Botha and two other officers are accused of drunkenly firing shots at a minibus carrying seven passengers in October 2011.

It must be borne in mind that the last two national police chiefs – Jackie Selebi and Bheki Cele – left in disgrace.

The former was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.

His successor was found by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to have irregularly signed contracts worth millions of rands a year to lease a building for the police.

The media is awash with stories of officers being charged with actively being part of criminal syndicates or being involved in sexual violence against women, who in some cases had approached them to report being violated.

Whatever the merits of or motives for Botha’s case or his removal, one thing is clear.

The SA Police Service must work as hard on apprehending criminals, as they must on improving the perceived and substantive integrity of the men and women in blue.

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