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Cape Town - Claims from within the city’s law enforcement that high-ranking officers get preferential treatment and are involved in “covering up corruption” have been denied by the City of Cape Town’s safety and security department.

Two officials, who asked not to be named as they are still employed by the city, said senior officials were getting away with misdemeanours, while lower-ranking staff were immediately suspended.

Those with family or connections in higher ranks were also given preferential treatment, they claimed.

The city’s executive director of safety and security, Richard Bosman, denied that rank had anything to do with the way an investigation was conducted.

“The City of Cape Town has a zero- tolerance approach to corruption and fraud and this applies to the safety and security directorate too. Investigations are conducted based on an allegation lodged or received against a metro police officer, including civilian staff.”

He said 26 complaints had been lodged against metro police officers between October and December last year and their ranks ranged from director and senior superintendent to student constable.

The law enforcement cops who spoke to the Cape Argus on condition of anonymity had several grievances about the way disciplinary matters were dealt with. These included the way some new recruits were given permanent contracts after only one month, while others had to wait longer for an appointment; suspension for some officers while others were allowed to continue working while a complaint was investigated; and abuse of overtime claims.

Bosman said not all officers under investigation would be suspended. “This depends on the nature of the complaint or allegation. Not all cases warrant suspension and each incident is treated on merit.”

The aggrieved officers also alleged that a metro police assistant chief had fraudulently claimed overtime for work done in Manenberg on the Safe Schools initiative.

They said the matter had been reported to the city’s fraud hotline without any action being taken. Lower-ranking officials were usually suspended when there was complaint or allegation of impropriety, but the assistant chief was still at his post.

Bosman said he was not aware of the alleged transgression and no complaint had been lodged. “Metro police’s internal affairs division investigates all complaints.”

Findings were usually made within 25 days, if possible. “The line manager is then informed of the outcome and if disciplinary action will be taken.”

But the city’s assurances have done little to quell officers’ concerns, who claimed that the city was “playing with people’s careers” by treating some staff differently from others.

They said morale in the metro police was at an all-time low, but that many were afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

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Cape Argus