City police ‘cannot just fire crooked officers’

2014-07-30 00:00

THE eThekwini Metro cannot just dismiss crooked Metro Police officers who get a criminal record once they are employed.

But an African organisation that monitors police services throughout the continent believes this problem is not unique to South Africa and that it could learn from other states on how best to overcome it.

African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) head Sean Tait said much of Durban’s problems with rogue cops could be in part because the city has no functional civilian oversight body.

“The failure of having oversight committees has led to a massive gap in monitoring performance and misconduct. It is worrying that in a country with five municipal police services only two have functional oversight structures,” said Tait.

Last week, The Witness revealed that only Tshwane and Cape Town had operating oversight committees — Johannesburg, eThekwini and Ekhuruleni have none.

The Durban Metro Police audit — which has never been made public — is an “ongoing process”, says city spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa.

The audit began at least two years ago in anticipation for the implementation of Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) — a licence de-merit system that was expected to be rolled out in 2011 but has been delayed repeatedly without any real explanation from the ­Department of Transport.

“Since the audit is ongoing, some officers have been found to have criminal records, the criminal offences varied between minor and serious offences. Such findings are addressed through internal disciplinary processes. The audit report is a confidential report and cannot be shared with third parties,” said Mthethwa.

She said the municipality “maintains that no applicant to the Metro Police will get accepted into the force if found to have a criminal record”.

“[Some] … of [the] members having criminal records come from the time before the establishment of Metro Police in 2000.”

Mthethwa said some policeman would acquire “criminal records in the execution of their duties”.

“The law is explicit and states that we cannot recruit members with criminal records. However, the law is silent if a member acquires a criminal record whilst in the service. Therefore in this case, the matter becomes an internal disciplinary process.”

Earlier this week The Witness uncovered that Metro officers with criminal records were still executing their daily duties. This revelation comes after the city’s cops have moved from one crisis to another, both at constable and management level, including the arrest and manhunt for policemen involved in a hijacking and robbery last week.


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