Police corruption a problem: expert

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Advocate Vusi Pikoli and commision chairperson Judge Kate O'Regan at the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing in the township. Picture: Cindy Waxa

Cape Town - Police management is not doing enough to prevent corruption within its ranks, the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

“There is no leadership in SAPS (SA Police Service) on corruption,” criminologist Liza Grobler testified.

“There is too much noise and deviance from head office... one just needs to look at the crime intelligence unit as an example.”

Grobler's testimony was challenged by counsel for the police Thabani Masuku, who described her comments as “irresponsible”.

“My research is based on fact and did not fall out of the air,” she replied.

Lisa Vetten of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre was next to take the stand.

Vetten testified about the inefficiencies in the Family violence, Child protection, and Sexual Offences (FCS) units.

“When individuals are not doing the right thing, management is not taking the necessary steps,” she said.

“Those individual officers are clearly not doing well.”

Officers attached to the units were exposed to trauma and not given the tools to manage their stress, Vetten told the commission.

This stress included “burnout” and “vicarious traumatisation” as a result of continued exposure to traumatic events in their jobs.

“FCS officers are suffering from both,” said Vetten.

“One should investigate the possibility that you are dealing with people who are depressed, traumatised, and burnt out...”

The commission also heard that the unit remained understaffed, which was evident in the number of backlog cases on its books.

This had a knock-on effect on the investigation of cases.

Vetten and Grobler were testifying in phase two of the commission, chaired by Judge Kate O'Regan.

The commission was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille after NGO the Social Justice Coalition complained that police inefficiency was the reason for mob killings becoming more prevalent in the area.

Sapa


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