Cape Town - The police lacked strong and positive leadership to fight crime and corruption, criminologist Dr Liza Grobler told the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday.
“We do not have strong leadership in the police at the moment. There is too much noise and deviance from head office.
“We need good and positive leaders in order to get good followers.
“Successful crime and corruption prevention in any police organisation starts at the top, with strong leadership - unfortunately lacking in the SA Police Service.”
Grobler’s testimony was challenged by advocate Thabani Masuku, representing the police, who described her statement as “irresponsible” and “startling”.
But Grobler, who has researched police corruption at national level, said: “My research has found that there is corruption within the SAPS in high crime and gangs areas.
“I cannot see why Khayelitsha stations should be any different from the other police stations… as an area with both high crime and gangs.”
The commission was set up in August 2012 to investigate alleged police inefficiency at Khayelitsha’s three police stations, Lingelethu-West, Harare and Site B.
Grobler testified that many South Africans perceived the police to be corrupt, a perception underlined and perpetuated by regular reports in the media of police corruption and criminal acts by police.
She cited the high-profile arrest, trial and conviction of former police commissioner Jackie Selebi in 2010 for fraternising with a convicted drug dealer, and the dismissal of Selebi’s successor, Bheki Cele, for his involvement in a multimillion-rand lease deal.
“Police officers are arresting their colleagues and that is where it ends… not much in prevention methods,” she said.
Grobler applauded Western Cape provincial commissioner General Arno Lamoer for openly admitting that there were corrupt officers in the province.
However, she added: “Lamoer is conscious of corruption but what is being done about it?
“There should be measures to reduce the problem.
“Lamoer needs the full support of the national commissioner to create his own province-focused methods to deal with corruption.”
She said there was no strategy in place to deal with corruption in policing - other than a strategy tabled in 1999, which had yet to be fully implemented.
Although there were high levels of complaints against Khayelitsha officers and a fair amount of disciplinary action, there had not been many arrests and convictions for corruption, said Grobler.
In a three-year period, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate investigated nearly 130 criminal complaints against Khayelitsha police, half of which were lodged in 2012.
“There must be constant emphasis on ethics, pride and professionalism… It is also important to emphasise that the majority of officers are ‘good cops’, doing what they in many cases have chosen to do diligently.”
Testifying on domestic violence, Professor Lillian Artz said that an effective addressing of the problem was hampered by a lack of knowledge of its extent.
“Because domestic violence does not feature as a distinct category in reported crime statistics, it is difficult to determine the true number of cases reported to the police and entering the justice system.”
Artz said up-to-date statistics were vital to allow a more accurate reflection of the extent of domestic violence so as to influence decision-making, from the government and civil society, with regard to the allocation of resources and spending on the design and implementation of strategies to address it.