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Cases of police brutality and criminality are up 37 percent from last year, with a total of 6 728 cases reported to the police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
The majority of cases, 4 131, were for assault, according to the annual report released on Tuesday.
Almost half of all cases (56 out of 120) of alleged police corruption investigated by the directorate were reported in KwaZulu-Natal.
Johan Burger, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said there was a “huge problem” with police leadership in KZN.
KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas agreed that the problem lay with police management. “There is a lack of discipline,” she said.
Corruption was not new, said De Haas, because there was a “history of bad policing” in the province. But it was getting worse, she said.
The number of cases reported for 2012/13 increased by 37 percent compared with 2011/12.
The report said: “The provinces that experienced an increase... are Eastern Cape, followed by Western Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.”
There was a decrease in the number of cases reported in Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo.
In KZN, the number increased from 484 to 772.
The Eastern Cape experienced a 102 percent increase in the number of cases from the previous year.
The report said that “703 of all cases received were ‘other criminal matters’, whereas 670 were complaints of discharge of official firearms and 431 of the cases were deaths as a result of police action”.
DA police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard said the numbers were “staggering and disgraceful”.
“Alarm bells should be ringing loudly in Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s ears.
“The image of the SAPS continues to be battered due to a seemingly endless stream of reports detailing incompetence, corruption, fraud (and) bullying as well as the major criminal activities such as assault and murder,” she said.
But directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini said the figures needed to be looked at in a “broader context”.
The reporting requirements had been changed when the Independent Complaints Directorate was replaced by Ipid.
“This is the first Ipid annual report. The Ipid legislation brought a few changes and one of them was to compel the police to report to the Ipid. In the past some of those matters were investigated by police. So that’s a big factor in the change,” said Dlamini.
Under the new act, police must report everything in writing within 24 hours.
“But we are concerned. One case is a case too many,” said Dlamini.
The report says that in instances where there was late reporting or a failure to report, cases of non-compliance with the Ipid Act were registered. These numbered 127.
Of the 6 728 cases received, 165 involved members of municipal police services and the rest were members of the SAPS.
“No cases were received alleging that members of the various (municipal police services) were involved in deaths in police custody, rape in police custody, torture, systemic corruption or non-compliance with Section 29 of the Ipid Act,” read the report.
Ipid confirmed this week that it was investigating the shooting and killing of a Grade 9 schoolgirl as violence erupted at the Cato Crest shack settlement in Durban.
Political Bureau and The Mercury