Pretoria - A two-year-long audit by the South African Police Service as well as the Civilian Secretariat for Police has revealed that 1 448 members who have criminal records that include murder, rape and corruption, are still active members of the police.
Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa announced on Sunday that the audit into how many current SAPS employees have criminal offences had been completed after thorough processes were followed.
Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Police, Dianne Kohler Barnard, has now called on National Commissioner of Police, General Riah Phiyega, to act swiftly, stating that all SAPS members with criminal records, should immediately be dismissed.
“All members of the SAPS, including those within its leadership, should be professional police officers who protect South Africans from criminals. They should not and cannot be criminals themselves,” Kohler Barnard said.
Mthethwa has given Phiyega three months to act on the outcome of this audit.
“I have now instructed her and the management team that feedback on action should be provided to me by the end of October this year,” Mthethwa said.
According to the minister, finalising the audit was critical for the department.
“This was a very complex and painstaking exercise. It included auditing of all SAPS employees, those employed under the SAPS Act and Public Service Act.
“It was protracted and took longer than anticipated because part of our approach on this matter was to ensure we exhaust all the avenues, be they legal, operational as well as labour relations aspects,” Mthethwa said.
The audit entailed thorough processing of statistical data, cross checking against the Crime Information System, personnel human resource files and finger printing.
But the DA has said this action is a little too late.
“The DA has long highlighted the fact that criminals were not being dismissed from the SAPS once convicted,” Kohler Barnard said.
“The fact that it took two full years to discover that these 1 448 criminal cops were on the payroll, is a disgrace for which the Minister of Police himself must apologise,” Kohler Barnard said.
She said in a statement that a month ago Phiyega admitted that the SAPS was “populated with murderers, rapists, fraudsters and other offenders”. There were still SAPS members behind bars who were still drawing monthly salaries, she added.
“She (Phiyega) referred to the findings of the audit as revealing an unpleasant picture, and now that audit has been revealed,” Kohler Barnard added.
Furthermore the DA stated that they have submitted parliamentary questions, which they say will be tabled in Parliament for scrutiny and debate. “This is to determine what steps will be taken to prevent criminals infiltrating the police service and ensure that cops who become criminals are immediately dismissed. We trust that the National Police Commissioner will take swift action in dealing with any criminality within the service now and in the future,” Kohler Barnard said.
According to Mthethwa, a legal process will now be followed.
“This is a legal process where everyone will be given an opportunity to state his or her side of the story. That said, our resolve to root out any unwanted elements within the police will never be deterred by anything, no matter how long and what it takes.”
Mthethwa also indicated that the findings revealed serious challenges with regard to management of discipline within the department.
As a result the police minister had instructed officials to develop a long-term strategy for cases of discipline and other related matters.
Reports indicate this process was currently under way.
Phiyega’s office could not be reached for comment.