Halt police crime and abuse

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Copy of IOL police badge generic Independent Newspapers File picture: Skyler Reid

Durban - More work needs to be done to cut out the rot in the police service and officers should be adequately rewarded to encourage them to stay on the straight and narrow.

This is according to a number of political parties who were commenting after MEC for community safety and liaison Willies Mchunu’s budget speech on Friday.

Parties also red-flagged the abuse of state vehicles by police for personal use and called for action to halt the use of vehicles for shopping trips and transporting family and friends.

IFP MPL Blessed Gwala said apart from the abuse of state resources, police turned to crime to supplement their meagre salaries.

“Police salaries need to be improved if we want to have a clean and efficient police service. Officers get involved in criminal activities because they risk their lives to serve the community, but are not adequately rewarded.

“Some officers own big houses and a fleet of luxury cars. One wonders how these officers generated the money to buy those, and how they maintain that lifestyle,” Gwala said.

The NFP’s Erickson Zungu said there was a “serious problem” of drug dealing and abuse in the service.

“Police need psychological counselling to enable them to deal with the stress through overwork. You can’t overwork people, underpay them and expect to get commitment from them.”

Zungu called for the department to “capacitate” officers to improve their administrative work.

EFF’s Vusi Khoza said abuse of police vehicles needed serious attention.

“Police use vehicles for shopping, transporting their friends or relatives to wherever they want to go, and there are no measures in place to curb this abuse,” Zungu said.

DA MPL Dr Rishigen Viranna said crime was a serious concern in the province.

“While this has been known for years by residents, the international community is now concerned. The United States State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s South Africa 2013 Crime and Safety Report rates Durban as a ‘critical’ crime threat post,” said Viranna.

The national crime statistics for the period, April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013, released in September last year, indicated an upward turn in serious crimes in the province.

Presenting his department’s R181.2 million 2014/15 financial year budget, Mchunu said crime statistics in the province were disturbing.

“The numbers mean this province and society produce a lot of criminals. This poses a challenge for our communities and the police to work harder to change the mindset of our communities towards crime and to strengthen the partnerships between all sectors of society against crime,” said Mchunu in his report.

Responding to claims that police were involved in crime, Mchunu said crooked officers were being dealt with through legal processes.

“Our prisons are full of police officers who have broken the law.

“There’s no selective justice so if you break the law, you face the consequences,” he said.

The department had put in place a police station performance monitoring and evaluation programme to ensure police stations improve their service to the public, he said.

A national monitoring tool is used to assess stations and the findings are presented to the provincial commissioner for remedial action where necessary.

About 400 police service delivery complaints had already been addressed in 2013/14, said Mchunu.

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