Guest Column

Is SAPS the Mafia?

2013-10-29 13:15

Adriaan Basson

The mess in the South African Police Service (SAPS) reminds me of the Key West case of 1984.

Key West is the name of a police department in the Monroe County in Florida.

In June 1984 the entire police department was declared a criminal enterprise in terms of the United States' RICO legislation (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act).

In the 1970s the Act was used mostly to target organised gangs and the Mafia. What made RICO so groundbreaking was that the state could now prosecute an entire criminal enterprise for racketeering, instead of a series of individual charges.

After an in-depth investigation by the FBI it was found that Key West did not only contain criminal elements, but was an integral part of a drug syndicate in Florida.

Senior officers in the office protected the drug-kingpin Miguel Brito-Williams and bags of cocaine were regularly delivered to the police chief's office.

Crime intelligence

Events over the past few days in the SAPS got me thinking how far we are away from the entire organisation, or at least the crime intelligence unit, being charged with racketeering.

Now there's an oxymoron: crime intelligence.

The SAPS fulfils a core function in our crime-ridden country. They must not only investigate and arrest criminals, but also prevent crime through infiltrating syndicates and by acting visibly, competent and correct.

People must fear the police.

But that becomes damn difficult when the chief of police is accused of criminal behaviour; a provincial police boss is allegedly on the payroll of a drug-dealer; the acting head of crime intelligence allegedly bamboozled his qualifications and the suspended head of crime intelligence, who stands accused of murder and corruption, is set to return to his job.

Then we don't even talk about the police's shocking performance in front of the Marikana Commission thus far or the almost weekly reportage on successful damages claims against the SAPS of millions of rands caused by negligent or incompetent behaviour.

If General Riah Phiyega acted illegally by tipping-off Western Cape police chief Arno Lamoer about a criminal investigation against him, she would be the third chief of police to be shamed in three years.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Jackie Selebi took money, clothes and cappuccinos from a drug-dealer. In return he showed Glenn Agliotti secret intelligence reports and kept him abreast of investigations into his syndicate.

Deep trouble

Bheki Cele was fired after awarding a R500m tender for new police head quarters to a friend of President Jacob Zuma, without following the correct procedures.

And now Phiyega. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is investigating her for allegedly telling Lamoer about an investigation by the Hawks and crime intelligence against him.

The claim is that Lamoer would have accepted money from a drug lord.

And then Phiyega suspended Major-General Chris Ngcobo, the acting head of crime intelligence, for allegedly falsifying his qualifications. But Ngcobo immediately hit back: he is being punished for blowing the whistle on Phiyega and Lamoer, he says.

To make matter worse, the Hawks-boss Anwa Dramat is being investigated for his alleged role in the rendition of suspects to Zimbabwe.

SAPS is in deep trouble. The only people who benefit from it are criminals.

One can almost hear Radovan Krejcir laughing out loud in his Bedforview mansion.

- Basson is the editor of Beeld. Follow @AdriaanBasson on Twitter.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    ipid  |  riah phiyega  |  chris ngcobo  |  bheki cele  |  radovan krejcir  |  jackie selebi  |  anwa dramat  |  arno lamoer  |  glenn agliotti

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