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Cape Town - Four on-duty metro cops, including a sergeant, reportedly searched and assaulted two people, took money from them, and used the cash to buy meat for a braai on the beach.
They were charged with theft, assault, discharge of a firearm, and consumption of alcohol while on duty - but the most serious punishment was a suspension of five days without pay.
The case is one of several involving metro police from December last year to July, with offences ranging from corruption, intimidation and assault, to insubordination and negligence.
Members of the city’s safety and security portfolio committee were concerned that the penalties in most cases were “totally unacceptable”.
“... The penalties don’t add up. There has been a serious violation of the public’s trust, and yet (they) only have a few days’ suspension,” councillor Ferlon Christians said.
In March, a metro cop allegedly parked his official car on a red line at a fleamarket and went to buy food. He was found guilty of misconduct, and is receiving counselling, according to the report submitted to the committee.
Another constable was accused of unprofessional behaviour after he allegedly assaulted a city improvement district officer this year.
In January, a sergeant was accused of negligence when she could not find her hand radio. A criminal case of theft was opened, but she then told her superior she had broken her ankle and realised after time in hospital that the radio, clipped to her belt at the time of the fall, was missing.
Another officer was disciplined for leaving her radio in her handbag which was reportedly stolen from her bedroom, while a sergeant in Mfuleni said she lost her radio after people were at her house doing renovations and her bag went missing.
One wayward constable was given a warning, valid for six months, for “making a nuisance of himself by repeatedly approaching a parking attendant” despite her pleas to stop.
There are also cases of unauthorised leave, failing to obey instructions, and non-compliance with operating procedures. In most cases, the penalty is two to five days’ suspension, or a warning valid for six months.
Metro police chief Wayne le Roux said each case was unique and was investigated and considered by the tribunal chairperson.
Richard Bosman, executive director of safety and security, said: “We need to give close attention to the chair we appoint. The staff know each other and have a long history. We need people from outside of the directorate for these serious offences.”
He admitted the city’s labour relations practitioners did not always attend tribunal hearings. They needed to be involved in cases dealing with fraud, corruption or theft, he added.
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the civilian oversight committee reviewed all disciplinary cases and would call for a matter to be reopened if there were concerns.
Portfolio committee chair Michael Pietersen said: “These sentences are laughable, like a slap on the wrist. This is a disgrace...”
The committee was told the civilian oversight committee was reviewing at least one of the cases.
Bosman said some metro cops had been absolved of allegations. Two convicted in court two years ago of assault had recently had their convictions overturned and their records expunged.