Thousands of police on wrong side of the law
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Johannesburg – Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are leading with the highest number of reported cases of police officers caught on the wrong side of the law.
This is according to police watchdog the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), which said that it investigated 5 998 cases against SAPS members, 111 cases involving the metro police and 11 against civilians.
This is revealed in the 2020/21 annual report tabled in Parliament. It said that of the reported cases, 4 228 were assault cases, 830 were cases of complaints of discharge of an official firearm(s), 353 were cases of deaths as a result of police action followed by 256 cases of torture.
Others cases involved 217 deaths in police custody, 80 were rape by police officers, 15 rapes in police custody, 66 of corruption, 30 other criminal matters and misconduct, and 47 non-compliance with the Ipid Act.
In its report, Ipid said the Western Cape recorded 1 224 cases, followed by Gauteng with 1 082 cases and KwaZulu-Natal with 763 cases.
The Free State had a total of 731 cases, Eastern Cape 730, Mpumalanga 510, Limpopo 427, North West 339, Northern Cape 309 and National Specialised Investigation Team (NSIT) 7.
There were 570 deaths consisting of 353 incidents as result of police action, and 217 incidents of deaths in police custody.
KZN has the largest number of cases as a result of deaths in police custody, with 104 (29%), followed by Gauteng with 89 (25%), Western Cape with 44 (12%) and Eastern Cape with 36 (10%) cases.
There were 24 similar deaths in Mpumalanga, 20 each in Free State and Limpopo, nine in North West, six in the Northern Cape, and one NSIT.
“Most provinces experienced a decrease in cases related to deaths in police custody, except KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Western Cape and Gauteng.”
The report said a number of provinces experienced a decrease in cases related to deaths as a result of police action, except Northern Cape, KZN and North West.
“In some instances, incidents of death as a result of police action had more than one victim, for example incidents of business robbery and hijacked vehicles.
“There were incidents where three or more victims died and were noted in the following provinces: Gauteng and KZN. Gauteng recorded 10 incidents of multiple death ranging between two to five victims at a scene, and KZN recorded eight incidents of multiple death ranging between two to three victims,” said the report.
Most deaths in police custody can be attributed to suicide, with 64 cases, followed by natural causes with 58 cases, and injuries sustained prior to custody (vigilantism), with 49 cases.
The incidents of suicide in police custody showed most incidents were reported in the Western Cape, with 17 cases, followed by Gauteng with 14 cases and Free State with 10 cases.
Four provinces – Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo – experienced a 10% decrease in the number of suicide victims.
The report also said the analysis of circumstances surrounding deaths as a result of police action revealed that most deaths occurred during police operations, which included response to a crime, arrest, negligent handling of official vehicles, escape and deaths associated with domestic violence.
“Most deaths occurred at the crime scene (301), followed by deaths in hospital/clinic (135) and deaths in police cells (16).”
The cases of a complaint of the discharge of an official firearm showed most incidents were reported in Gauteng (176), followed by Eastern Cape (125) and KZN (121).
“Most provinces experienced an increase, except Limpopo and North West. Ipid nationally experienced an increase of 21%.”
On the 80 incidents of rape by police officers while on or off duty, the report said most incidents were reported in Gauteng with 16, followed by Western Cape with 23 incidents and Free State with 12 incidents.
Thirteen cases of rape were committed by inmates or civilians, with nine reported in Limpopo.
However, when it comes to the 4 488 torture or assault cases, Western Cape has the highest number with 1 016, followed by Gauteng with 678 incidents and Free State with 565 incidents.
Eastern Cape recorded 529, KZN 473, Mpumalanga 327, Northern Cape 269, North West 267 and NSIT two.
There were 3 757 common assault incidents, followed by assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm (GBH), with 415 incidents, crowd management with forty-two (42) incidents, and dog attack with four incidents.
The report shows that there were 66 corruption cases reported, with 60 levelled against SAPS officers, and six against metro police.