173 KZN cops with criminal records face axe

2014-04-11 00:00

A TOTAL of 173 police officers in KZN are to be axed from the service after a departmental audit found them to have criminal records.

Already 13 officers have left the service voluntarily when they were told that they would be investigated by the SAPS’s fitness board.

“There are 160 more who will be processed as soon as court action taking place in the Eastern Cape is resolved,” Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s acting spokesperson David Barritt said yesterday.

Mthethwa announced that nationally out of the 1 448 officers with criminal records, 1 017 would be dismissed and 300 were still to appear before the board of fitness. Sixty-seven have since left the service.

“This action demonstrates that we are making progress in our continuing efforts to rid police ranks of dishonest people,” Mthethwa said.

Barritt said the dismissal notices were ready to go out, but were stalled after Police and Prison Civil Rights Union (Popcru) obtained an interdict suspending the process.

Kwenza Nxele, provincial secretary of Popcru, said his union had taken a decision to defend its members at all costs.

He said some of the officers’ criminal records did not impact on their employment and made an example of an officer who has criminal record for a minor offence.

Nxele also said in the serious cases, the SAPS had to show that there was an irreparable relationship between the employer and employee, but the challenge was that no action was taken against the officers who continued to work after courts convicted them many years ago.

Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies said the Police Service Act has a provision that if an officer was convicted without an option of fine, they were automatically dismissed.

“The problem is when there is an option of a fine or imprisonment.”

Burger also said when the officers were convicted, a board of fitness should have immediately been instituted, but it was not too late to institute internal investigations to make recommendations.

“They will have a right to appeal and the union can appeal on their behalf. The police can’t be seen to condone criminal conduct,” Burger said.

Violence monitor Mary de Haas said she was not surprised with the number of officers from KZN facing the axe.

“The problem is not just police with criminal records, but police who may have been involved in criminal activity but never prosecuted,” De Haas said.

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