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Deon de Lange
A TOTAL of 150 police officers – three of them generals – are on suspension awaiting the outcome of internal disciplinary proceedings for alleged crimes ranging from rape, corruption and theft to robbery, kidnapping and murder.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa gave these figures in response to a written parliamentary question from DA spokeswoman on police Dianne Kohler Barnard. In terms of the disciplinary code and procedure for the public service, “prompt investigations must be conducted” and disciplinary hearings held within 60 days from the date of suspension, she said.
Mthethwa’s figures show, however, that officers suspended on full pay spend on average 258 days at home.
For those officers suspended without pay, the average period on suspension drops to 57 days, lending credence to repeated claims by government departments that suspended employees are often to blame for delays in finalising disciplinary cases.
About R8 million was paid in salaries to suspended police officers last year.
According to the most recent Public Service Commission investigation into suspensions, carried out in 2009/10, taxpayers forked out at least R45m for the salaries of suspended officials in the public service in that year.
But the report warned that the figure “could potentially be much higher” as many departments had not or could not provide the information requested.
Kohler Barnard has questioned the latest figure for police suspensions, saying it reflects a “massive decline” from 869 last year and 771 in 2009/10.