The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) welcomes this opportunity to engage with the media about its work in the country. I want to thank you for allowing us this opportunity and I hope that there will many more such opportunities especially when we table our Annual Report for 2010/11. At that time, we would appreciate a robust engagement so that everybody is in a position to understand the state of police conduct in our country during the period under review.
Condolences on police killings
Let me express our condolences with the families and colleagues of police officers who have been killed by criminals. This should not be happening in a democracy that respects the rule of law. We hope that the culprits will be brought to book as soon as possible.
The mandate of the ICD is to conduct independent and impartial investigations of alleged criminality and misconduct committed by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Municipal Police Services (MPS). This mandate has been expanded and focus by the new Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) legislation which was recently signed into law by President Zuma on 12 May 2011. It is just a matter of time before this legislation becomes operational.
This legislation gives the IPID the necessary teeth in the following ways:
1. The focus on the types of investigations to be conducted is sharpened, namely:
any deaths in police custody;
deaths as a result of police actions;
any complaint relating to the discharge of an official firearm by any police officer;
rape by a police officer, whether the police officer is on or off duty;
rape of any person while that person is in police custody;
any complaint of torture or assault against a police officer in the execution of his or her duties;
may investigate corruption matters within the police initiated by the Executive Director on his or her own, or after the receipt of a complaint from a member of the public, or referred to the Directorate by the Minister, an MEC or the Secretary, as the case may be; and
any other matter referred to it as a result of a decision by the Executive Director, or if so requested by the Minister, an MEC or the Secretary as the case may be.
2. The Station Commissioner, or any member of the SAPS or MPS must:
immediately after becoming aware, notify the Directorate of any matters that must be investigated by the directorate and
within 24 hours thereafter, submit a written report to the directorate in the prescribed form and manner of any such matter.
3. An obligation to act on or respond to the IPIDs disciplinary recommendations is put on the National Commissioner in that he must:
within 30 days of receipt thereof, initiate disciplinary proceedings in terms of the recommendations made by the Directorate and inform the Minister in writing, and provide a copy thereof to the Executive Director and the Secretary
quarterly submit a written report to the Minister on the progress regarding disciplinary matters made in terms of paragraph (a) and provide a copy thereof to the Executive Director and the Secretary and
immediately on finalisation of any disciplinary matter referred to it by the Directorate, to inform the Minister in writing of the outcome thereof and provide a copy thereof to the Executive Director and the Secretary.
4. The members of the SAPS or MPS must provide their full cooperation to the directorate, including but not limited to:
the arrangement of an identification parade within 48 hours of the request made by the directorate
the availability of members for the taking of an affidavit or an affirmed declaration or to give evidence or produce any document in that member’s possession or under his or her control which has a bearing on the matter being investigated and
any other information or documentation required for investigation purposes
The ICD has costed the new legislation and such requirements will be taken to National Treasury to ensure that the necessary budget is made available to fund the IPID mandate.
As you are well aware, the ICD is dealing with a number of high profile investigations, many of them relating to the use of force or what is termed police brutality. I will now refer to some of the investigations we have been doing recently.
In the Eastern Cape, we are investigating a case of murder against two constables from the Tactical Response Team (TRT) in Port Elizabeth. It is alleged that the constables assaulted a person at a shop owned by a foreign national. The suspects were arrested and released on bail. The latest is that one of the witnesses was shot and killed last Sunday. Investigations are underway to determine if there is a link with the case against the constables. The other witness has been placed into the witness protection programme.
In Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal the ICD arrested five constables on allegations of murdering a 45 year old man who was picked up from his place of employment in Ballito to point out a firearm at his home in Shakaskraal. When no firearm was found, the deceased was allegedly assaulted severely until he died. Then the suspects allegedly staged a shooting to cover up the assualt. The suspects are out on bail.
In KwaZulu-Natal the ICD arrested 15 police officers for murder of a 40 year old man. The allegation is that on 29 October 2010 police officers from Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) Pinetown and Tactical Response Team (TRT) Inanda went to the deceased’s home to search for a firearm. They allegedly assaulted the victim until he collapsed. They then tried to resuscitate him by throwing water on him. On failure, they dumped him alongside a road where he was found still unconscious. He died on the way to hospital. The ICD arrested the suspects on charges of murder and they were released on bail. The case will go on trial in October 2011.
In the Free State, the ICD investigated the alleged assault of a photographer who had taken a picture of a police vehicle. He was allegedly roughed up and driven around with in the police vehicle. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) declined to prosecute and recommended that the matter be dealt with internally. As a result, the complaint has been referred to SAPS for disciplinary action.
The ICD is also investigating the killing of a protester in Tlokweng in the North West province this week. Our investigators have been on the scene since the incident was reported to the ICD on Monday evening. The firearms of about 45 members of the Public Order Policing units from different stations have been confiscated and sent for ballistics testing. The investigation is ongoing.
What is the point?
When one looks at all the cases mentioned above, there have been independent and impartial investigations, which is a key role of the ICD and IPID.
It is important to note that most complaints against police officers are not substantiated. But in those where there is evidence of wrong-doing by members, there are swift arrests and court appearances. In many instances police officers are subpoenaed to appear in court.
On an annual basis, the ICD makes more than 500 recommendations for prosecution to the DPP and twice as many recommendations to the SAPS management.
Many of our cases are currently on trial in courts across the country. There have been numerous convictions in many of them. Remind me to talk about this when we release the annual report.
The lessons learned from some of our recent investigations are that we are able to investigate more swiftly when we work as a team regardless of where in the country the investigators come from. Therefore, going forward, we will be using the “team approach” to ensure speedy investigations.
The major challenge is that witnesses are not always able to identify the suspects. A case in point is the widely reported case of rape that occurred in September 2009 in the police cells in Rustenburg. There was an ID parade but the victim could not point out the suspect. Therefore, the Director of Public Prosecutions declined to prosecute.
A similar situation has occurred in Ermelo, where almost 30 people are alleging that they were assaulted by members of various units who were deployed during service delivery protests. Complaints were lodged with the ICD and statements were taken. The challenge is that none of the victims can identify the suspects.
Accessibility remains a challenge for the ICD and it will be the same for the IPID in the short to medium term. However, we are determined to address this problem by opening satellite offices whenever finances permit. I am pleased to announce that the ICD will be opening a satellite office in George, Western Cape. In the long term, more satellite offices will be opened with additional funding for the IPID.
We are planning to have an extensive campaign to market the new IPID and launch it as a brand. Therefore, we will appreciate your support in making the public aware of this new body and the important role it plays in ensuring proper police conduct.
I want to thank you again for inviting the ICD, we appreciate this opportunity.
Cell: 082 809 1927
Source: Independent Complaints Directorate
Issued by: Independent Complaints Directorate
2 Jun 2011