270 policemen disciplined over their alleged involvement in helping suspects escape custody
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Cape Town – Police officers have been hauled over the coals for their alleged involvement in the escape of several suspects.
While more than 500 suspects escaped from lawful custody, the police have taken disciplinary action against 270 officers who allegedly helped suspects to escape.
The disciplinary action led to one police officer being fired and others had their salary docked for two months and got a written warning, said the police in the annual report before Parliament.
“A total number of 545 persons escaped from police custody in 412 incidents, during 2020/2021, compared to 680 persons, during 2019/2020, a decrease of 135 escapees or 19,85%, achieving the targeted decrease of 2%. A total number of 202 escapees were re-arrested within 24 hours after the incident occurred. The highest number of escapees escaped from police station holding cells (165), followed by Community Service Centres (CSCs) and temporary holding facilities (86), from courts (dock, room or passage) (58), from court cells (47), from hospitals (44), wrongfully released (35), in transit (33), from police station loading zones (31), from court loading zones (18), during further investigation (17) and during arrest (before taken to police stations) (11),” said the report.
The police said they were trying to mitigate these factors and bring down the number of prisoners who escape while in custody.
They said they hauled 270 officers before disciplinary committees to face action.
In the cases they investigated one police officer was fired while others were issued with written warnings.
“The SAPS developed and implemented a national plan to prevent escapes from, and deaths in police custody, including provincial plans, which are revised annually to ensure adherence to instructions regulating safe and secure custody. An impact assessment was also compiled and circulated to all provinces. A total of 270 members, allegedly involved during escape incidents, were charged departmentally. A total of 136 disciplinary proceeding (cases) were reported, 48 cases were placed on roll and 43 cases were finalised. In 25 cases, members were found guilty, one member was dismissed, 15 members received warnings, eight members were suspended without pay for a period of not more than two months and 34 members were given either a verbal warning, a written warning, a final written warning or counselling,” said the report.