Police warned to “fight crime within the law”


Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, has urged police to “fight crime within the law.” He says some 8074 civil claims were brought against the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the 2010/11 financial year, costing the police over R106 million in legal fees.

Minister Mthethwa wants stricter monitoring of police conduct and has instructed senior management to curb lawlessness amongst officers.
“South Africa is moving in a new direction as far as policing is concerned. Our new approach intends to prepare police officers for a return to discipline and professionalism in the fight against crime. As can be expected, there have been unfortunate deaths, wrongful arrests, torturing and other negative actions as a result of police action which we have had to process and investigate. To this end, we are strengthening the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) in order to give effect to investigating any abuses by police officers in the course of their duty,” Mthethwa stated in a press release.

Earlier this year police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi told IOL News that strengthening ICD legislation is the first step to curbing the problem. “We would rather have the police on the ground, fighting crime than in court defending themselves for their alleged abuses of civilians.”

Statistics compiled by a Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) researcher indicate that, since 2001/02 the number of assault investigations conducted by the ICD has trebled from 255 to 920 in 2009/10. Attempted murder cases it investigated have gone up over seven times from 43 in 2001/02 to 325 in the last financial year.