The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department says it is serious about tackling corruption within its ranks and has the figures to prove it. Elgina Ndlovu, a Member of the Mayoral Committee for Public Safety in the City of Johannesburg, says official statistics compiled by the JMPD show that decisive action was taken against corrupt and unethical officials over a five year period.
“The figures show that the department has acted where evidence of bribery or corruption was reported to its internal affairs division and strong action, including dismissal, was taken against guilty officials,” she said.
Ndlovu noted that in recent weeks, allegations have been made in the media that corruption in the JMPD was rife and that officials regularly accept bribes to quash actions against traffic offenders. She also referred to perceptions that the JMPD refused to act against corrupt officials and complaints from the public are being swept under the carpet. “None of these are true. The JMPD’s figures show exactly the opposite picture and that there is, indeed, a declining trend in the number of cases reported over the past five years,” Ndlovu said.
Figures showed that between July 2006 and September 2010, the JMPD’s Internal Affairs Directorate received 2 244 complaints. “These figures show a declining trend since 2006/07 (599) to 2009/10 (476),” she said acording to the state BuaNews agency.
Detailing the nature of the complaints, Ndlovu said 1650 had been for conduct unbecoming, 81 for assault,78 for fraud and corruption, 70 for absent without leave and 60 for corruption. “The number of allegations received referring to issues of “fraud, corruption, or bribery” has shown a significant decline in the four year period,” she added.
The JMPD investigated 1250 of the reported cases. Of these 60 percent or 745 proved to be unsubstantiated, 147 were undetected, 82 were either withdrawn or settled and in 20 percent or 249 officials were prosecuted. Of the cases referred for prosecution, 44 had resulted in not guilty verdicts. In the remaining cases the JMPD took the “strongest possible action” with 62 dismissals, 50 withdrawal from duties, 37 suspensions without pay and 22 written warnings.
“These figures should be evaluated against the growth in the number of JMPD officials employed – from about 1 500 in 2006 – to the current force component of more than 3500 today.
“This means that despite a growth in the number of officers and a significant increase in the number of “person hours” on duty the number of reported cases show a real decline,” Ndlovu said. Despite the results to the informal surveys by the media that suggest corruption was rife and the perceptions of public, the evidence did not support this, she added.
“Media surveys and participants in phone-in programmes on radio can at best provide anecdotal evidence. It is of little value to the city unless it is turned into formal complaints. The JMPD cannot act on allegations unless it is provided with evidence.” Ndlovu called on the public to support the JMPD’s effort to root out corruption by reporting incidents. She also appealed to the media refrain from making unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and bribery without providing the supporting evidence.
Government spokesman Themba Maseko meanwhile added “the progress made by government in fighting corruption in the public sector” must be matched by an equally vigorous effort in other sectors of society. “Government is concerned at the willingness shown by individuals and companies in the private sector to transact with the public sector in unethical and dishonest ways. The progress we are seeing in the public sector should be matched by a similar effort in the private sector,” said Maseko in a statement on Friday.
This follows President Jacob Zuma’s announcement in Parliament last week that 235 officials had been found guilty of misconduct since the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Hotline, and as a result of successful investigations. Around R100 million has been recovered from perpetrators and the Special Investigation Unit has been instructed to probe alleged maladministration and corruption in several government departments, municipalities and agencies.
This was a clear indication of government’s resolve to combat corruption, mismanagement and maladministration at all levels of government and the public service. “Government, however, wishes to stress the fact that the fight against corruption is a fight by all sectors and citizens; beginning with individuals,” said Maseko.