Police need anti-corruption unit - ISS

2011-09-01 22:44

Johannesburg - An independent specialised anti-corruption unit is needed to deal with corruption in the police, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said in a report released on Thursday.

"This unit must consist of the best and brightest police members," reads the report, distributed at the launch of a campaign by the ISS to encourage reporting corruption in the police, and to praise professionalism.

The Hawks have been filling this investigative task by carrying out lifestyle audits and investigating complaints against officers above the rank of colonel, with a small staff.

But, a Constitutional Court ruling earlier this year called its legality into question due to how the national police commissioner is appointed, so it's existence was uncertain.

Head of the crime and justice project at the ISS, Gareth Newham, said that although a problem, corruption in South Africa's police was not systemic.

Statistics on complaints of corruption were not publicly available, but in the police annual report for 2009/2010, 362 police staff were charged under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, with 193 being suspended.

This was 0.002% of a workforce of 190 199 in March 2010, according to the police report.

Research on public experiences shows the majority of police accused of corruption or other offences escape detection.

The ISS's own interviews with 150 people found that 50 had had direct experience of corruption with a police officer, but only one had tried to report it.

That complaint was ignored.

Corruption did not "start in 1994", Newham said. This was evident in the trial record of apartheid-era security branch officer Eugene de Kock, which includes details of insurance and informer fee fraud.

Corruption was also not just caused by individuals, but by environmental factors and the overall integrity of the police and its leadership.

Low point

The police had an anti-corruption unit with 250 members, but this was closed down in 2002 by former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi. This was in spite of the police's strategic plan, according to which the biggest obstacle in achieving its goals was corruption.

"In retrospect it is clear that this lack of integrity extended to the top of the organisation," the report continues.

Parliamentary minutes from a 2001 presentation to the safety and security portfolio suggest Selebi and other senior officers misled Parliament on corruption by saying it wasn't possible to compare the police's service integrity framework to anti-corruption strategies abroad.

This was because comparable strategies didn't exist, and that corruption was decreasing.

The report, compiled by Newham and colleague Andrew Faull, continued that in spite of these misleading statements, senior police leadership was verbal about rooting out corruption, but didn't follow up with significant action.

Selebi's eventual corruption conviction was a "low point" and tainted the police.

Current commissioner General Bheki Cele's signing off on a controversial lease deal was also problematic in terms of maintaining integrity, they found, as was the arrest and later dropping of charges against a journalist who reported this.

The ISS said one of the best ways to prevent corruption was to create systems through which employees could safely expose it, and to foster this.

Signs of being in danger of tipping towards corruption include poor management of personal finances, stress, narcotics abuse and planting evidence to get a criminal off the streets.

Situations which can cause corruption are policing of the drug dealing and sex work industries, undocumented migrants and unregistered enterprises - cases where each party stands to benefit from the transaction.

The ISS encouraged community participation in the project to report corruption.

It has set up a Facebook page and Twitter feed which will provide information on how to go about increasing reporting.

  • Komasa - 2011-09-01 23:08

    The unit must investigate all corruption not only that of the police. The members of that unit must not be identified through the media or through the courts as witnesses.

  • Sinudeity - 2011-09-01 23:17

    "Police need anti-corruption unit" - Yeah, start one and call it the 'scorpions'.

      49M - 2011-09-02 08:46

      Yea, if we're honest with ourselves this doesn't really come as a surprise. When the Scorpions were closed down all cries fell on deaf ears, as did the cries about most of our other current problems too (aids, education, Zimbabwe, roads). If you don't want to listen you must feel...

      ian.teall - 2011-09-02 09:03

      Yeah, and in 3 months time they will need an anti-corruption unit to monitor the anti corruption unit that monitor the police! Could somebody PLEASE teach one of the apes in government what the word 'accountability' means, and maybe they won't have to spend half of the GDP on anti corruption units!

  • Macho Mike - 2011-09-01 23:20

    So who will then police the new independent specialised anti-corruption unit when they then become corrupt? If our government lead the way in corruption, there is simply no chance of success. And if the new independent specialised anti-corruption unit is a success, the ANC will just sommer close them down.

  • croix - 2011-09-01 23:59

    So the best cops cannot fight ordinary crime out there, they must now fight crime in the police force??? What a complete joke you have become, ANC!

  • Deeteem - 2011-09-02 06:05

    When the general is corrupt, quess what his troops will be ?

  • Komasa - 2011-09-02 06:30

    News24 listened to ISS spokesperson and he refered to social networking as a means of reporting corruption, not a special investigation unit. Had to 'spice' up the article to satisfy the stereotypes?

      umhlopo - 2011-09-02 09:16

      when the info bill is passed it will limit social networkings ability to spread around info without the individuals being prosecuted

  • komminsens - 2011-09-02 06:32

    ....And an anti-Anti Corruption Unit to review the dealings of this proposed new Anti-Coruption Unit.

      JP De Villiers - 2011-09-02 06:59

      Exactly what I thought. Where will it end.

      Markal - 2011-09-02 09:13

      Took the words out of my mouth. For every anti-corruption unit, there will have to be another one to monitor the first one.

  • Vince York - 2011-09-02 06:37

    The cracks of the Berlin Wall reappear down south in Africa all of a sudden - as they realize the failed policies of transformed tribal communism, and a non-unifying status of 14 official "forked tongues" - whereby the multitude of youth are sucked into a tribal vacuum whereas the same tongues speak 'angelic democratic words' with other forked tongues AND the media laps it up on all ends making massive tranches of money. Simply put, the transformation of SA has been done criminally and insanely so far!

      Komasa - 2011-09-02 06:49

      Well lets make french the unifying status of ten indigeneous languages. Typical of someone from western culture, analyse from a distance with only half the facts much like christinity's lack of tolerance.

  • P-JB - 2011-09-02 07:07

    Looks like job creation for our taxes to be wasted and we will NEVER see any of the ‘big’ crooks being sentenced. What will prevent the anti-corruption unit from being corrupted as well? Anyone guilty of corruption automatically has a ‘get out of jail’ card if they are high enough or ‘connected’. This is just window dressing where they may sentence a few of the small time crooks but the big crooks will always stay out of jail and never face prosecution e.g. ANCYL and ANC members. Very few of these people have ANY integrity.

  • Johnfpro - 2011-09-02 07:07

    Talking of Selebi, what has happened to him? All has gone quiet after being found guilty and stating that he was to appeal his conviction.

  • TDP - 2011-09-02 07:27

    We have had Judge Heath & the Scorpions. But because they were so successful they got shut down! So what is the point of creating another anti-corruption unit?

  • John - 2011-09-02 07:27

    "Police need anti-corruption unit"? Next you'll be telling us that fish need water!

  • AndV - 2011-09-02 07:42

    JZ and his cadres are in sh.. both ways. Hopefully this is the break all reasonable people in SA has been waiting for.....

  • Daemos1 - 2011-09-02 07:59

    I thought we had one :(

  • KrayZee - 2011-09-02 08:41

    "An independent specialised anti-corruption unit is needed to deal with corruption"... We had one called the Scorpions who did a fantastic job. Only, they did it too well and nearly got rid of Zuma and some of his cronies. That is one of the problems in this country... people of integrity get sidelined and the mediocre cadres get advanced to positions beyond their capabilities so that they can feed at the trough.

  • umhlopo - 2011-09-02 09:08

    they had specialised units and zoomer closed them down to cover his own ass,do you honestly think that these criminals will start up new units to investigate themselves

  • John - 2011-09-02 09:29

    police to police the police,who is going to police the policers

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