The Inkatha Freedom Party has called for a commission of inquiry into police’s involvement in organised crime following the OR Tambo International Airport heist.
“What happened at OR Tambo International Airport might also happen at any other international airport in the country, therefore we want to know how many police members are suspected of being compromised by association with criminals,” said IFP national spokesperson on police, Albert Mncwango.
A gang of armed robbers stole an undisclosed amount, reportedly millions of rands, in the cash-in-transit heist at OR Tambo.
Five men were arrested this weekend and appeared briefly on charges of armed robbery in the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court on Monday. Police confirmed that one of those arrested was a police officer.
The South African Police Service said: “There is no place for corrupt or criminal elements in our organisation and this arrest sends a strong message that we will continue to investigate without fear or favour.”
Police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe reiterated that while disappointed, the police welcomed the opportunity to hold their own to account.
“Their [arrest] is a clear indication that something is being done,” she said.
“The director of public prosecutions will deal with the matter because it is a criminal matter.” she added.
Mathe said an integrity management unit had been established at national level.
“This unit will enhance the capacity to prevent and detect corruption and will focus specifically on identifying police officials who are found to be involved in corrupt activities.”
The IFP expressed concern regarding civilians who pose as police officials.
“The state needs to impose more severe penalties for those who are found to be in unlawful possession of police uniforms and equipment.”
Mathe said “it is a criminal offence to impersonate a police officer and this is not taken lightly”.
The IFP said: “Kid-glove treatment of corruption among police personnel breeds a lack of accountability which ultimately lets the public down. Police officers indulging in corruption and other criminal activities are embarrassing the entire police force, the government and the country as a whole.”
Two of the men arrested, within two weeks of the heist, are due to appear in court again later this week after being granted R50 000 bail each.