Mr M W Makhubela (COPE-Limpopo) to ask the Minister of Police:
Whether, following his call for harsher punishment for police officers who are found to be in contravention of the law compared to ordinary criminals as reported in the media (name furnished) on 9 August 2011, he will implement a system of separate punishment for such officers; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
The Minister of Police is not responsible for the punishment of persons who have contravened the laws of South Africa. That is the responsibility of the courts, which, for purposes of sentencing, have to take into consideration all aggravating circumstances, including a position of authority and/or trust which is held by a police official. The courts do not have a separate system of punishment for police officials who contravene the law. The SAPS is only responsible for sentences which can be imposed for misconduct in terms of the SAPS Disciplinary Regulations, 2006.
The law, does, however, recognize that offences committed by police officers require a harsher sentencing regime. It needs to be noted, for example that the Criminal Law Amendment Act, No. 105 of 1997 provides in section 51 for minimum sentences for certain serious offences. Part II of Schedule 2 of the Act provides for sentences up to 25 years imprisonment for certain offences if, inter alia, it is proved that the offence was committed by any law enforcement officer where more than R 10 000,00 is involved or where the law enforcement officer committed the crime as a member of a group of persons, syndicate or enterprise acting in the execution or furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy.
As indicated in the relevant Media Statement, the commission of offences, in particular offences involving dishonesty by police officers is regarded as despicable and the South African Police Service must do what is necessary in order to ensure that the full measure of justice meet officials involved in crime, including, where applicable investigations by the Independent Complaints Directorate, proper investigations by the South African Police Service and at the same time the application of the Disciplinary Regulations against police officers who contravene the law.
Reply to question 315 approved by the Minister