DA wants plan to tackle SAPS lawsuits

2013-03-12 22:33
DA (Picture: Sapa)

DA (Picture: Sapa)

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Cape Town - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa must come up with a detailed plan to tackle a surge in lawsuits against the police, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.

MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said Mthethwa should be summoned to Parliament to explain his plan.

"While we of course agree with the Minister for saying that tough disciplinary action must be taken and that command and control must be strengthened, it is of course long past the time that he turned his words into action."

Measures to stop the number of civil claims rising even further should include the "full demilitarisation of SAPS".

Mthethwa said earlier in the day he had instructed national police commissioner Riah Phiyega to act urgently to "avert and reduce" civil claims against officers under her command.

This came after it emerged that taxpayers had paid state and private lawyers over R300m to deal with civil claims between March 2009 and February 2012.

The minister said: "We need to close this gap by identifying training needs of our police, and, where appropriate, take tough disciplinary action against those who abuse the law."

Kohler Barnard said this was not a new problem, as the money allocated to contingent liabilities (money put aside for unforeseen events, including court cases) had quadrupled over the last six years.

"It has increased from R5.3bn in 2006 to R20.5bn for 2011/2012... The bulk of this figure is made up of civil claims against the police amounting to R14.8bn."

Kohler Barnard said this was directly linked to the militarisation of the police, which had led to increased brutality.

The police have in recent weeks come under scrutiny after the death of taxi driver Mido Macia.

Nine police officers in Gauteng face charges of murder after Macia was handcuffed to the back of a police van and dragged along a street in Daveyton last month. He died hours later in the Daveyton police station's holding cells.

The SA Human Rights Commission said in a statement earlier this year that it noted with concern "the increasing number of reports of excessive use of force by the police".

Read more on:    police  |  da  |  dianne kohler barnard  |  nathi mthethwa  |  riah phiyega  |  politics

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