IPID ready to fight state capture along with Zondo commission

Robert McBride. (File, Netwerk24)
Robert McBride. (File, Netwerk24)

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) looks forward to working with the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture and has already started investigations into police officers suspected for defeating the ends of justice in state capture probes, its executive director Robert McBride said in the directorate's 2017/2018 annual report. It was tabled in Parliament recently.

"The country's imagination is held captive by reports of impropriety coming out of the Zondo commission on state capture. It is noteworthy that IPID was the first institution to call out state capture in the criminal justice cluster," McBride wrote in the annual report. 

"IPID has already started investigations into the role of police officers for defeating the ends of justice to undermine investigations into allegations of state capture. We look forward to working with the Zondo commission to assist it in unravelling the truth behind state capture."

However, in the annual report McBride also expressed concern about the directorate's budgetary constraints.

"IPID's budget for compensation of employees was reduced by R14.4m in 2017/18 and R23.0m in 2018/19. IPID's work is dependent on having investigators to do the investigations. Unlike other environments, the IPID needs more personnel to be able to fulfil its mandate. In addition, IPID closed down four of its satellite offices simply because it could not afford to keep them running with the limited budget," he wrote in the annual report. 

"Operational and structural independence for IPID are non-negotiable as pronounced by the Constitutional Court. Therefore, IPID should never have to rely on the SAPS (South African Police Service) for funding as this would undermine its independence, which is at the core of IPID being trusted by the public. One way to undermine the independence of IPID is to deny it the resources it needs to operate independently from the SAPS."

99 criminal convictions

IPID's budget currently comes out of the police's budget. 

Other concerns about impediments to IPID bringing rogue cops to justice mentioned by McBride include continuing attempts to interfere with its investigations and classification of documents it needs by the police.

McBride said that despite the meagre resources at its disposal, IPID had achieved some successes in cases that were finalised in court and in some disciplinary proceedings. 

IPID referred 1 428 criminal investigations to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) for decision. The NPA only decided to prosecute 55 of these cases and declined to prosecute 297 cases. IPID is still awaiting a response from IPID on 1 029 cases.

There were 99 criminal convictions in which 112 police officers were convicted of various offences. Of these, five life sentences for four murders and one rape conviction were handed down by the courts during the reporting period.

IPID referred 1 823 disciplinary recommendations to the SAPS for the service to initiate disciplinary action.

5 651 cases reported

There were 234 disciplinary convictions emanating from IPID recommendations. A total of 311 police officers were found guilty of various types of misconduct. Although there were 36 dismissals, IPID remains concerned about the inconsistency of the penalties meted out in SAPS disciplinary proceedings.

The annual report indicates a 19% decrease in the number of cases reported when compared with the period 2016/2017. 

A total of 5 651 cases were reported to IPID during the 2017/2018 financial year. Of these, 3 661 were assault cases, 677 were cases of complaints of discharge of official firearms, 436 were cases of deaths as a result of police action followed by 217 cases of torture. There were also nine cases of rape in police custody.

Police Minister Bheki Cele wrote in the annual report that the ministry of police supports and applauds the efforts of the IPID in "rooting out any form of transgression in the rank and file of the South African Police Service and metro police". 

"While we applaud IPID for their good work we also urge IPID and all concerned to expedite and finalise their investigations in a reasonable space of time," Cele said.

"I commend IPID's management for working hard to improve the audit outcome to unqualified audit opinion. They should further ensure that audit findings are addressed to improve internal control systems."

"The Independent Police Investigation Directorate must be seen to be doing their work without fear, favour and prejudice."

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