Torture, assault, kidnapping and unexplainable murders. These are the alleged tactics of rogue police officers – especially prevalent at Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal stations – as they enforce law and order.
The revelation, backed by human rights activists and policing researchers, comes as the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) released its annual statistics on police criminality on Thursday.
Of the 2 493 criminal complaints laid against police, 70 percent related to police brutality – attempted murder, assault, torture and rape.
With reports of torture up from five to 41 cases, and rape reports almost doubling from 24 to 46 cases in the past two financial years, human rights activists fear the situation is getting worse and more widespread
– a fear Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu is aware of.
Among KwaZulu-Natal’s statistics of shame are 30 deaths during escapes from custody, 87 during apparent arrests and 27 during investigations.
Gauteng accounted for 48 deaths during the course of an arrest and 23 during investigations.
Hillbrow police station and Weirdabrug in Centurion are the country’s worst, according to ICD head Francois Beukman.
He also ranked the Joburg and Tshwane metro police departments as the worst metro policing departments in terms of criminality.
An ICD investigator said KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were problem provinces, especially when it came to rogue members within units such as the Hawks. “The problem is on the increase. There are rogue elements who operate with the consent of their commanders.”
KwaZulu-Natal human rights activist, Mary de Haas, said they received reports of deadly crimes being committed by rogue police gangs on a monthly basis. “The (Hawks), organised crime units and public order policing units feature prominently.
“We believe these actions are sanctioned by commanders turning a blind eye as their members act as judge, jury and executioner in the killing of so-called suspects who in some cases are not guilty.”
The biggest challenge to fighting these rogue officers was getting people to speak out. “People are petrified. They see what happens and just keep quiet,”she said.
“The ICD’s figures are the tip of an iceberg.
People are sick and tired of crime and, like police commissioner Bheki Cele’s tough talk, they think it is alright to shoot suspects, but these people are suspects not yet proven guilty.”