‘Cops got slap on the wrist’

2011-01-11 00:00

THE lenient punishment against 10 officers who were found guilty of manipulating crime statistics in Pietermaritzburg’s notorious Mountain Rise police station has left some of their colleagues who testified against them feeling betrayed. The officers are believed to be fearing for their lives as the 10 officers return to Mountain Rise police station.

Initially, there were 11 officers who were suspended and subjected to disciplinary action. But one of them, controversial former Mountain Rise police commander Director Hariram Badul, was later fired from the force two days before his retirement on January 31. He appealed against his firing and won his appeal at the Pietermaritzburg high court in March last year, but he continued with his retirement.

The other 10 officers were then given a “six months suspended dismissal”, which is equivalent to a final written warning.

This is what left some of the officers who agreed to testify against those accused of manipulating crime statistics in 2009, feeling “angry, disappointed and fearing for their safety”.

“The decision to give these people a suspended dismissal is a slap on the wrist. To them [accused] it might be good news and to the public it might be great to read in the paper. But to those who made themselves available to testify against the accused, it is a sad story.

“These people have been returned to the same police station to come face to face with the witnesses, which makes working at the station very bad,” said a source who declined to be named.

Another source said people at the police station have been demoralised by the fact that the accused were found guilty but still returned to work.

“There is no consistency with the way the similar cases in KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape were treated. In Western Cape officers who were also accused of manipulating crime statistics were fired,” said the source.

The sources said they hoped that the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) would take over the case and charge the accused with criminal offences.

However, ICD spokesperson Tiyani Sambo said that his organisation cannot easily take over the case because there might be certain complications.

“The fact that they were found guilty during the internal hearing does not automatically mean that we can charge them. One investigation does not easily inform another investigation,” he said.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan referred all queries about the matter to the police’s communication office in Durban.

Communication officers in Durban said Director Phindile Radebe was the only person who could comment, but she switched off her cellphone after promising to get back to The Witness with answers.

Police national spokespersons Nonkululeko Mbatha and McIntosh Polela were also not available.

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