Mountain Rise top cop arrested

2009-12-05 00:00

REDEPLOYED Mountain Rise police station commissioner Harriram Badul, three other police officers and a Pietermaritzburg businessman were arrested yesterday in connection with the disappearance of government property valued at about half a million.

“They face 51 counts of fraud and corruption and are expected to appear in court on Monday. It is possible that more charges may be added,” KwaZulu-Natal SAPS commissioner, Mamunye Ngobeni, told journalists at an urgent media briefing in Durban yesterday afternoon.

The arrests come after investigators probing alleged fixing of the station’s crime statistics stumbled upon other irregularities there.

Eleven officers, including those arrested, were removed from the station last month to facilitate a smooth investigation relating to the statistics.

“The National Inspectorate was called upon to conduct a probe, and discovered more suspicious transactions leading to the arrests today.” During the investigation it was discovered that equipment was missing from the station and another investigation was launched. “It was necessary that the investigations run parallel and as a result we have made these arrests,” Ngobeni said.

It is believed that computers and television sets were seized from the houses of the arrested police officers. Ngobeni confirmed that the property included IT equipment.

The matter is being investigated by the SAPS elite unit the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks).

Mountain Rise hit the limelight when it was hailed as the best police station in the country after it recorded a sharp decline in crime statistics for 2007/2008. Celebrations were short-lived, however, when the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) swooped on the station and seized boxes containing dockets that were allegedly not recorded on the CAS system.

A whistleblower, Craig Josiah, was allegedly suspended for leaking the information to the ICD.

The ICD advised Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to charge Badul, the senior officer implicated in fiddling the crime statistics. A directive to charge Badul was put on ice by the then provincial commissioner Hamilton Ngidi. Instead, he launched the internal investigation that led to the new finding. Shortly after Ngobeni was appointed last month, Badul and 10 other officers were removed from the station.

Ngobeni said she has informed Mthethwa about the arrests, and said: “He stated that he is committed to rooting out corruption, especially within the police service and welcomed the arrests”.

Speaking from Cape Town, Mthethwa urged other members not to be discouraged. “There is no need for upright officers to hang their heads in shame because some of their collegues are involved in illegal activities. Obviously we subscribe to the notion that the officers arrested are innocent until found guilty, but we expect justice to take its course.”

Ngobeni said the statistics probe is nearing its end. She could not confirm or deny whether the arrests were linked to the initial investigation.

She encouraged whistle-blowers to continue to report irregularities and corruption.

“It is very sad when we receive information that police are involved in criminal activities, but we are not going to allow corruption in the SAPS and we will deal with them accordingly.”

Two of the arrested officers are in the supply chain management division at the station. The businessman is a supplier who is contracted with the SAPS. Weekend Witness has the names of the other suspects, but can not publish them until they appear in court.

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