Ill-discipline a major issue in the SAPS, Parliament hears


Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police (PCOP) has raised concerns over ill-discipline within the South African Police Service (SAPS), including the 686 disciplinary cases registered against officers in the last financial year.

In a presentation on 17 August, the SAPS and Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) updated Parliament’s PCOP on statistics discrepancies and offences by SAPS members, amongst others. The PCOP said it is not only concerned about the working relationship between the SAPS and the IPID but also the lack of disciplinary action by the SAPS and lenient outcomes of disciplinary hearings.

The SAPS and the IPID, in response to concern over their working relationship, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that serves to record and recognise an acceptable manner of interaction. This will help the SAPS comply with the IPID Act, which was signed on 9 March 2021. Two representatives nominated by the National Commissioner and the Executive Director will serve on a committee to facilitate, monitor and evaluate the implementation of this MOU. An interdepartmental committee between the SAPS, the IPID and Civilian Secretariat of Police Service will be established to oversee the management and coordination of IPID disciplinary recommendations.

In response to the issue of lenient disciplinary outcomes for SAPS members, the SAPS assured the PCOP that the correct measures are in place to ensure the correct disciplinary action is taken.

In the 2020/2021 fiscal year, the IPID made 2 173 recommendations to the SAPS. A total of 686 negative recommendations (disciplinary steps recommended by IPID) were received, involving 1 270 SAPS members. Out of the 686 negative recommendations, 477 are related to torture/assault. Other offences are death in police custody (four), death as a result of police action (62), complaint of discharge of a firearm (70), rape by a police officer (25), rape in police custody (four), corruption (16), non-compliance with the IPID Act (22) and other offences (six).

The presentation said 100% of these cases initiated disciplinary proceedings with 550 finalised, and 136 pending. Out of the 550 finalised, 22 members’ services were terminated, 179 were found guilty, 99 were found not guilty, 21 cases were withdrawn and 229 cases have no prima facie evidence (initial evidence to establish facts).

Out of the 179 found guilty there was 28 dismissals, 13 salary suspensions, 31 final written warnings, 71 written warnings, 17 verbal warnings and 19 incidents of corrective counselling.

The presentation examined the offences that made up the 179 guilty cases: one death in custody, 28 deaths as a result of police action, six rapes by a police officer, one rape in police custody, 105 cases of torture/assault, and three cases of corruption.