Police Management must act decisively on ‘Tsotsi Cops’ – Minister Mthethwa
However, South African Police Service (SAPS) members must not be unfairly tried through ‘media and public disciplinary courts’
No member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) is beyond reproach or above the law, irrespective of whatever circumstance they are faced with in the execution of their duties. Equally, police management are duty-bound to ensure officers uphold the principles of Batho Pele at all times.
The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa reiterated this mandate this morning following weekend reports of alleged acts of police brutality in Hillbrow, Gauteng over the weekend. City Press newspaper reported that members of the SAPS Tactical Response Team unit beat and abused revellers at a nightclub in Hillbrow and apparently this was captured on video which is being circulated.
The Minister expressed full confidence in the Gauteng police management as they have demonstrated their toughness in rooting out rogue officers in the past months. He said they will thoroughly investigate the incident, the video footage in question as well as draw evidence from eye-witnesses and alleged victims. Whether the police were called to restore order at the club, whether they were investigating crime or whether they abused innocent civilians, the investigation will reveal.
Minister Mthethwa has been consistent in condemning any police brutality. “Our stance as the police leadership is comprehensible: we have never shielded corrupt police officers instead have been leading a campaign to weed out tsotsi-cops. Any such atrocious acts cannot be left unattended.”
To demonstrate some of the proactive measures and approaches which the Ministry has introduced over the past twelve months, in order to curb any police abuses on civilians, they include:
Introduced the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Bill (IPID) in Parliament, which seeks to establish and put in place mechanisms which will ensure the rule of law is upheld at all material times, even by the law enforcement agencies.
119 SAPS members were dismissed following intensive investigations as a result of allegations of fraud and corruption in the 2009/10 financial year.
44 SAPS officials at Ports of Entries had been investigated in the 2009/10 financial year for various criminal charges. They were additionally charged via the SAPS internal disciplinary procedures.
By February this year, over 200 Gauteng police officers were arrested on various counts of corruption.
SAPS management is currently reviewing its Human Resource Development strategy – with emphasis from recruitment to retirement.
In 2011, we changed the whole aspect of recruiting new members by subjecting the process of recruitment away from an individual recruitment officer to a broader kind of a forum, involving stakeholders such as community policing forums.
New police recruits are now training for a period of two years as opposed to the traditional one year.
Incorporating into the training, the civic education and civic duties; inclusive of training in aspects of Constitutional and Batho Pele principles.
SAPS management is currently reviewing measures and policies around disciplinary cases, for example, to move away from the normal practice of ‘suspension with full pay’ and move towards instigating tougher conditions against those who are being investigated.
Minister Mthethwa further took issue with some of the media practitioners and organisations who ‘jump the gun’ and condemn things for the sake of condemning, without allowing due processes to be finalised.
“After yesterday’s story we noted some individuals within the media circles making premature statements and calling on police leadership to judge and punish our members based on allegations. We will not be pressured into responding by anyone. We shall never dismiss any member via ‘media courts’ and not afford them fair platforms to state their sides of the story.”
The Minister termed such behaviour as opportunistic and reminiscent of cheap politicking. “It is unfortunate when those who are supposed to be informing the public objectively, take sides and draw conclusions on matters are that still allegations. As police leadership and management we shall not take short-circuits in order to arrive at disciplinary decisions.”
The Ministry’s mandate to police officers remains unchanged: we expect all police officers to fight crime smartly and toughly, all within the boundaries of the Constitution. Those who cannot conform to this mandate will not have a place within the Force.
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Issued by: South African Police Service
14 Mar 2011