DA calls on SAPS to fire 374 Eastern Cape cops guilty of serious crimes

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The DA is calling for the SAPS to fire 374 cops found guilty of serious offences during internal disciplinary processes over the past three years.
The DA is calling for the SAPS to fire 374 cops found guilty of serious offences during internal disciplinary processes over the past three years.
Emmanuel Croset ,AFP
  • The DA is calling for the SAPS to fire 374 cops found guilty of serious offences during internal disciplinary processes over the past three years.
  • The MEC for Safety in the Eastern Cape defended the cops, saying they showed remorse and never broke the trust of the SAPS.
  • However, the DA has said the police officers cannot be trusted by the public and needed to be kicked out of the police service.

A total of 374 Eastern Cape police officers found guilty of committing serious crimes, including corruption, murder and torture, were still in the South African Police Service.

This was revealed by Eastern Cape Safety and Liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe while responding to a parliamentary question from DA MPL Bobby Stevenson.

READ | Gauteng police have killed hundreds, but SAPS leaves brutal cops unchecked

The 374 cops were among 502 police officers found guilty of the crimes in the past three years by SAPS' internal disciplinary processes.

Others resigned amid or before the investigations.

Over the past three years, 1 550 out of the full complement of 17 450 police officers in the Eastern Cape were accused of the crimes.

Offences reported against police officers in the past three years include 65 complaints of discharging official firearms, 67 deaths as a result of police action, 754 assault cases, 23 deaths in police custody, 25 rapes by police officer, 74 corruption cases and 12 cases of torture.

Tikana-Gxothiwe revealed that the SAPS never investigated a number of cases because the accused police officers had resigned in some instances.

Tikana-Gxothiwe said the SAPS kept the 374 police officers in the service because they showed remorse, their cases had no negative impact on their colleagues and the relationship of trust had not been broken.

An outraged Stevenson said:

The trust relationship might not have been broken with SAPS but it is breaking with the public at large. SAPS needs to take a hard stance against criminals in their ranks so they end up in orange jumpsuits and not retained in blue uniforms. Keeping officers found guilty of crime tarnishes the image of hard-working and dedicated officers. There is no place in SAPS for bad cops. These rotten apples need to be rooted out.

Tikana-Gxothiwe explained:

The members are charged and found guilty on departmental charges (not criminal). Every case is unique and is dealt with on its own merits. If a member is found guilty in the criminal court, section 36 of the Police Act stipulates that if a member is convicted of an offence and is sentenced to a term of imprisonment without the option of a fine, he/she shall be deemed to have been discharged from the service with effect from the date following the date of such sentence.

The Eastern Cape Community Police Board and police union Popcru said being found guilty does not automatically lead to dismissal.

Eastern Cape Community Police Board chairperson Velani Mbiza Gola said:

To call for 374 police officers to be fired from an understaffed SAPS during the time where recruitment processes have been put on hold due to the pandemic is a reckless statement.

Popcru chairperson Colonel Loyiso Mdingi said:

The DA must stop politicising the SAPS disciplinary processes. Some offences were never intentional. For instance, the case of the Joburg man who was shot dead during the Wits student protests with a rubber bullet. Killing that man was not intentional because the law allows police to use the non-lethal rubber bullet. It was so unfortunate that he died.

Stevenson said the high number of police members accused of crimes undermines the public confidence in the SAPS. He said it has led to a climate of mistrust in which victims don't report crimes.

These accusations highlight the prevalence of allegations of police brutality, Stevenson added.

"Psychometric testing needs to be introduced to ensure that only those people with the right disposition are accepted as members of SAPS. There is no place in SAPS for people with violent tendencies. The wearing of body cameras will also expose and curtail crooked cops more easily," Stevenson said.

The DA said they needed criminals to fear the cops, not the public to fear the police.

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