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Durban - An Ntuzuma policeman who allegedly used his police van to hijack a supermarket manager is being investigated by his colleagues – who appear not to know of his previous brushes with the law.
The Daily News has established that at one stage in his 20-year career, Warrant Officer Sibusiso Ntombela, 46, faced charges of attempted murder and robbery.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed the charges.
But police had no details of these cases – or their outcomes – and it appears they may have misplaced his identity number, Zwane said.
Ntombela, who was arrested on Thursday, had been sought since April 21 after he allegedly used a bakkie in the hijack and abduction of Model Spar manager Joey Pillay, 39, after he worked a double shift.
Pillay was in Felix Dlamini (Brickfield) Road when he was instructed to stop by the occupants of a police vehicle, which had its lights flashing and siren blaring.
CCTV footage shows the police vehicle circling the store several times. Police said Pillay was robbed of his shop and safe keys, his cellphone, wedding ring and cash.
His vehicle was hijacked, and he was forced to get into one of the hijackers’ vehicles. He was later dropped off in Cato Crest.
The suspects, however, could not drive his vehicle because of the anti-hijacking system.
Pillay got help at a tavern.
Ntombela’s co-accused, Bonginhlanhla Kenneth Dlamini, 33, was also arrested and Pillay’s shop keys – and a police bunny jacket – were allegedly found in his possession.
They both face charges of hijacking, robbery with aggravated circumstances and abduction, and are due to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Across KwaZulu-Natal, 173 police officers have previous convictions for crimes such as rape and murder, said national police spokesman David Barritt. He said 13 had resigned, but only seven of the remainder had yet to undergo the inquiry process.
The rest – 153 police officers – have lost their cases but their fate hangs in the balance after the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union asked the Eastern Cape High Court for an interdict halting the process nationwide. Judgment in that matter will be handed down in two weeks.
“These are people we trust to enforce the law. They are out fighting crime,” said Gareth Newham, head of governance, crime and justice at the Institute of Security Studies.
“They (police management) need to avoid letting the criminal elements infiltrate their ranks.”
Newham said internal accountability and a system of checks and balances were lacking within the SAPS.
Senior officers who had criminal records did little to instil pride and professionalism in their younger counterparts, he added.
“The criminal element with the police far outweighs those who operate with integrity.”
Newham said if Ntombela’s record could not be traced, it pointed to an internal database that had not been updated, or was not working at all.
“This is something that would be crucial in finding policemen who had been implicated in crimes, no matter the outcome.”
He said instead of relying on the overburdened court system to process errant police members, the police should rely on their own internal disciplinary systems to root out the criminals.