Durban - KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni last week fired a Ntuzuma warrant officer after it emerged he should have been in prison serving a 22-year jail term.

The damning findings emerged after the officer, whose identity is known to The Mercury, was arrested for a recent car hijacking.

Police this week admitted the policeman was convicted in 2009 and had appealed against his sentence.

Provincial police spokesman Thulani Zwane said Ngobeni had “vowed” to take remedial action.

Zwane said the conviction was not reported to the provincial commissioner’s office in 2009. “He was never jailed as he had appealed against his conviction.”

The policeman was arrested in April after he allegedly used a police van assigned to him to hijack a supermarket manager on Felix Dlamini (Brickfield) Road.

He is set to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

Zwane said: “When the provincial commissioner learnt of his previous conviction she immediately dismissed him.”

Ngobeni had since “instructed” detectives under her command to investigate why the conviction was not reported to her office in 2009, as prescribed in SAPS disciplinary policy. “She has vowed that those guilty of dereliction of duty will be dealt with.”

Zwane said the officer’s previous record was detected when he was arrested for the Mayville robbery in April. But this was disputed by the DA’s police spokeswoman, Dianne Kohler Barnard, who said police “only acted when Correctional Services raised the alarm”.

“As with any criminal investigation, an arrested suspect will be submitted to a check for previous convictions. Despite his attempts to hide his conviction from the employer, he was detected,” said Zwane.

Barnard said she found it “inconceivable that someone could be sentenced to 22 years in prison and yet remains a member of SAPS”.

“It tells me that there’s a catastrophic breakdown in our criminal justice system. The situation in the SAPS is far worse than they’re willing to admit and proves there are criminals within (saps).”

She said, “just because you’re appealing”, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in jail. “You’re guilty until the (conviction) is overturned. Is SAPS saying because he was appealing, it was okay to work for another 10 years?” she said.

Efforts to get comment from the National Prosecuting Authority, Justice and Correctional Services all proved fruitless.

The Mercury