Cops urged to take care with statements

2012-03-19 21:07

Pretoria - Members of the police service will face disciplinary action if they failed to write accurate statements, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa warned on Monday.

According to his office, he said in reply to a Parliamentary question: "Such mistakes can make or break a case. We shall therefore not gamble with the lives of citizens."

The minister said all officers who had their statements rejected by the courts, would be placed under a mentor for training.

Officers would be trained in all elements of crime, from the description of witnesses, to suspects, crime scenes and obtaining complete information of the complainant.

Mthethwa said the way police officers took down statements had a huge impact on criminal convictions. That was why skills in this regard were vital.

The minister had been asked what he had done to ensure that statements by police officers would be able to withstand the scrutiny of court procedures.

  • John - 2012-03-19 21:13

    Disciplinary action?....gosh. People without complete education cannot work in police. When we will have a "real police" in this country?

      Oscar Maswanganyi - 2012-03-19 22:32

      I'm not surprised at all by this. what do you expect from someone employed based on drivers licence not educational status. 60% of cops are not fit for the job.

  • Rodney - 2012-03-19 21:16

    Last week we heard that the majority of police can't shoot, now we are told they can't write proper statements. Those who fall short will be placed with a mentor to receive full instructions on how to police. Exactly what were they taught beforehand, if anything at all? If it wasn't so serious, i'd laugh.

      Yar - 2012-03-19 21:55

      Can't shoot, can't drive, can't write, can't avoid taking a bribe, also can't break the addiction to fried chicken. It's going to be a long hard war.

  • Art - 2012-03-19 21:21


  • Cracker - 2012-03-19 21:25

    You can't discipline people who do not have the natural aptitude for their jobs. Suggestion: If you wish to lay a complaint with the police, google the definition of the crimes you think have been committed and then use commom sense to connect the definition of the crime and the facts. Draw up the statement by typing it out on your computer (use numbered paragraphs) and add the little commissioner of oaths part just above the space for your signature and date. Or at the bottom below. Print it out and save the police a lot of trouble. All they have to do is take the typed statement you have signed and administer the oath. They then open a case as if they took the statement. If they refuse to take the statement, well let them then take the statement from you and if things go wrong later you will be covered and perhaps be in a position to take legal action.

      Cracker - 2012-03-19 21:31

      clarity: If they refuse to accept your statement to open a case, well then let them take down your statement in their manner and if things go wrong later, sue them.

  • Lacrimose - 2012-03-19 21:49

    Oh comedy! I had to provide my own pen, then spell pretty much every 4th word when making a statement about a burglary. I was not allowed to write my responses myself. I was ratty and irritable, it was 6:30pm at night and raining into my house where the evil-doers had chopped down my kitchen door with an axe. And here I was trapped in a police station whilst my armed response called me every 20 mins about my alarm going off ('cos of the rain/door thing). BUT this guy did adhere to the rule and wrote an accurate statement. Took 1.5hrs whilst he answered the 'phone, wrestled with the fax machine and dealt with other 'walk-ins' - most wanting their ID books certified. When I got fed-up, he threatened to arrest me for 'obstruction'. I wasn't even home when the burglary happened - how much did I have to say? So can we introduce some sanity into this rule please? And a pen?

      Cracker - 2012-03-19 22:16

      Maybe we need to ask the security companies who are in any event currently doing (at huge cost to us) what the police used to do to consider that extra service of taking down our statements and just handing them in at the police stations. Add to their efficiency by making them all commissioner of oaths and there we go - we won't even have to go and waste our time in charge offices. Interesting idea for security companies and the police.

      Lacrimose - 2012-03-19 22:34

      @Cracker, well if only we could! I wasn't allowed to write my own statement - the homeowner. The Armed Response had the guy and were refusing to turn him over to SAPS until I made a statement. So there were 2 SAPS at my house, armed response, the fiend. I still had to make a statement before they could bring him in - whilst my kitchen was being flooded and the insurance was waiting for the case number before they would send in carpenters and locksmiths to fix the damage. 3 weeks later, the fingerprint dudes arrived. 6months after that I got a letter, they had to let the guy go 'for lack of evidence'. I still have the axe he left behind.

  • eben.ferreira1 - 2012-03-19 22:08

    Oh my Word. How Utterly embarrassing.

  • Kim - 2012-03-19 22:31

    Oh crap, does this mean our police stations are going to be empty?

      Yar - 2012-03-19 23:06

      Empty is probably an improvement.

  • Peter - 2012-03-19 22:34

    From my experience MOST cops write inaccurate statements. Not their fault. Lack of training. Lack of language ability. The solution (in many instances) is to allow complainants to write their own statements and for the police to witness them. Simple really. The alternative, suggested by Mthethwa, is to punish people for not having skills, which seems really silly, seeing that the Government chose to employ them and train them.

  • Zezethu Zeze Mkondweni - 2012-03-19 22:43

    Wheah! I wonder why were they not trained prior to 'exercising' their duties! Smdh* Talking about gross negligence! Lol! But i damage seyenzekile.

  • Frans - 2012-03-19 23:03

    Eish how can you write a decent statement if you don't know the definition of a crime,and that knowledge is only obtained by means of studing and writing and hopefully passing the prescribed police exams. We all know whats happening today, free promotions were the order of the day.

  • Andrew - 2012-03-20 07:07

    The Keystone Cops minister says officers who had taken statements and rejected by the courts, would be placed under a mentor for training. Do the police have such persons and do the have an unlimited supply? Just need to visit a police station to give a statement on a minor accident and see the result. No Joke!

  • Murechen - 2012-03-20 09:17

    They will be mentored AFTER they screwed up your case by submitting incorrect statements. Well done

  • vassan1 - 2012-03-20 10:49

    I can understand you peoples frustration on policing. The problem with polcing starts at the very top. Firstly if politicians are appointed to head the SAPS instead of career policemen, what would you expect? Secondly, if you appoint station commanders becaue he was part of the strugle, what would you expect? Thirdly if yo appoint managers in the SAPS who does not his a@@@hole from his elbow, what do you expect? Fourthly if you give all your financial resources to specialized units and not the local police station, what do you expect? Add to the fact, that most cops are promoted in respect of gender and race without the ncessary qualifications and experience, what would you expect? I am an ex-cop ad I can assure you that the ministry of police as well as politicians must take full blame for the evils of policing in this country. If I were the commissioner of police, I would allocate 80% of the budget to grassroot policing, that is police stations in the communities where ordinary citizens are daily affected by crime. Crime cannot be fought from the boardroom as is the case in the police right now. Also the police must be totally de-politised. Politics must have no bearing in policing. The current situation is that the entire senior management of the police is made up of politicians. A career policeman/policemwoman can only reach the rank of Colonel which equates to a Deputy Director. Promotion thereafter is a political appointment. Now you know why cops can't read or write.

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