File photo: African News Agency (ANA).

Pretoria – Following allegations of police officers’ involvement in the thriving drug trade in the Pretoria CBD, Gauteng management of the SAPS on Wednesday said there were ongoing arrests and dismissals of corrupt officers from law enforcement agencies.

“The allegation of police involvement in drug-related and other corrupt activities cannot be denied given the number of officers that have either been arrested and/or dismissed from the service for corruption since January 2019," SAPS provincial spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said. 

"The arrest and dismissal of police officers serves to reaffirm the commitment by the SAPS management in Gauteng that police are serious about combating fraud and corruption within the ranks, and rooting out criminal and corrupt elements from within the service."

Peters said such action was in line with the SA Police Service National Anti-Corruption Strategy launched in June 2018.

“The SAPS has a zero-tolerance approach to any unethical and corrupt conduct by members of the service. No one is above the law.”

Peters said Gauteng SAPS provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela, on his appointment in February, adopted six priorities that needed attention urgently towards bringing down the high levels of crime.

“Three of these priorities focus specifically on: addressing organised crime; addressing the scourge of drugs and human trafficking; and addressing and rooting out corruption from within the service," Peters said.

"To this end, police have together with other law enforcement agencies in the province including the metro police departments, intensified operations such as O Kae Molao conducted weekly across the province, where some of the significant successes made during the integrated operations, have included arrests for possession and for dealing in drugs.

“Eight hundred and forty-two suspects were arrested in Pretoria central for possession and/or dealing in drugs, while 391 were arrested in Sunnyside since January 2019 to date.”

On Monday, Tshwane councillor for community safety and emergency services Karen Meyer said she had received reports and footage showing that members of the SAPS are involved in drug dealing.

Meyer also lambasted the SAPS officers for allegedly preventing Tshwane Emergency Services personnel from dousing flames in burning buildings alleged drug peddlers were inhabiting. 

Community members, mainly taxi drivers, on Monday allegedly assaulted suspects who had been arrested by police officers, before allegedly setting their premises on fire. 

"Tshwane Emergency Services personnel were prevented by the crowds from accessing and treating the alleged drug peddlers, but they were also prevented from doing so by the SAPS to extinguish the fire. 

"Although it was a volatile situation, they should protect the emergency services to fulfill their tasks. This was also the case during the events earlier this month elsewhere in the CBD," Meyer said. 

"There are also similar reports and preliminary footage received by my office appears to indicate that the SAPS (officers) are also allegedly complicit in collecting money and facilitating the sale of drugs today. 

"While we condemn any form of vigilante justice, the SAPS as a law enforcement agency must play its part and not be a part of the problem." 

Meyer challenged Mawela to "urgently investigate these allegations about the involvement of his officers and their refusal to permit emergency services personnel onto the scene to do their work". 

Meyer said: "Despite repeated commitments and in-good-faith discussions between the TMPD (Tshwane Metro Police Department) and SAPS, joint drug-busting operations have not taken place and it is no wonder that the community view law enforcement as part of the problem." 

She said the SAPS "urgently needs to come to the party to assuage the fears of communities living with the daily scourge of drugs and address the perceptions that law enforcement is involved, or run the risk of this being held true due to silence and inaction". 

African News Agency