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Cape Town - Police officers with criminal records cannot be summarily dismissed, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega told the Western Cape legislature on Tuesday.
Mark Wiley, chairman of the standing committee on community safety, had asked Phiyega about a recent audit up to January 2010, which found 1448 officers had criminal records.
Parliament heard in August that most of the officers were convicted after joining the service, and that none of them had been dismissed yet.
“The non-disclosure of a criminal record in most organisations would result in a summary dismissal. Why is it not the case with the SA Police Service (SAPS) ?” Wiley asked.
Phiyega said labour law had to be followed.
“You'll agree with me that we are like most organisations. In terms of our agreement with labour and other people, we will use all the labour laws that are at hand to ensure we respect the rights of everybody.”
She said dismissing officers without following the correct procedure would result in many days spent in court defending those actions.
“Okay, I think you're being very soft on them.... The many organisations I know, it's a straight walk,” Wiley replied.
Phiyega said the fact that the audit had been done showed the commitment there was to ensuring the police service was cleaned up.
Last month, SAPS acting deputy national commissioner for human resource development Nkrumah Mazibuko addressed MPs about the audit.
“These people are subjected to disciplinary process and then they take the matter up on appeal, and we get an order to reinstate the person,” Mazibuko said.
Police members convicted and jailed were automatically fired.
“If that person appeals the sentence... and he gets the sentence reduced, maybe to a suspended one, by a criminal court, then in terms of our own (police) act, such a person is entitled to apply for reinstatement.”