Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Police Minister Bheki Cele says the crippling shortage of rape kits in the country’s police stations could be attributed to corruption within the SAPS.

According to Cele, corruption is so rampant in the police force that those behind it are sacrificing crucial services to advance their personal interests.

Addressing the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) conference in Durban on Wednesday, Cele used the embarrassing crisis of rape kits which affected the country’s police stations in late August and early September to illustrate high levels of rampant maladministration in the SAPS.

DA MP Andrew Whitfield had revealed that the police stations did not have enough kits to allow officers to collect the evidence needed for cases and convictions. Embarrassed by the revelations, the minister and the management of the SAPS frantically scrambled for the kits to be restocked.

Recalling the incident, Cele said it showed that some within the force were corrupt.

“Last Thursday when the president was answering the questions, I was really hot under the collar because they asked him about (rape) kits.”

He added: “Somebody spoke about tenders and said maybe the tender did not go where it was supposed to go, it was going somewhere else. These things, they kill two passions of our lives: they kill the morale of the South African police members where they are supposed to be at the station, and the morale of the community, and that is a bad combination.”

Cele also used the platform to lash out at corrupt politicians, saying they placed the lives of police officers who were dedicated to fighting crime in danger.

He lamented that fighting crime in some parts of the country, more so in informal settlements, was risky because of unstructured settlements where houses were not correctly numbered.

He made an example of Marikana informal settlement, where shacks were not properly numbered, and said this often made it hard for police officers to trace criminals in that area.

For this, he blamed councillors who he said were “chowing” money meant for developing these settlements and leaving the risks with police officers.

Cele said when violent protests erupted, mayors and councillors should be called to account, and police officers “be left out of this”.

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande are expected to address the congress today.

On the first day of the conference on Tuesday, Popcru president Zizamele Cebekhulu called for the development of police officers and prison officials, saying they had to be afforded opportunities to study further. 

Additional reporting by ANA

Political Bureau