Johannesburg - Joburg metro police department chief David Tembe has battled to hide his shame over revelations that an officer who allegedly caused a collision that claimed the lives of three family members was drunk. “Something happened (on Sunday) night that puts us in a bad light. We're here to protect, not to harm the public,” Tembe said on Monday. “We're really sorry for what happened.”
The pile-up crash that happened just before 8pm along the Golden Highway near Lenasia on Sunday killed three members of one family. They are Ntombizodwa Motloung, 20, Siphelele Motloung, 6, and Lwandle Motloung, 8.
Their father France Motloung and another daughter, 11-year-old Angel Motloung, sustained injuries and were rushed to the Chris Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto.
“They are in a critical condition,” a relative, Andiswa Motloung, told The Star. “This is a very difficult time for the family. We never expected something like this to happen.”
The officer, 35, attached to the VIP Protection Unit, escaped unscathed in the accident. There were also no injuries in the taxi that was also involved in the pile-up.
The officer crashed into the rear end of another vehicle, which then collided with a taxi, City of Joburg head of public safety Michael Sun said.
Tembe revealed that the officer was off-duty and was driving an official metro police BMW when the incident occurred.
He was arrested on the spot and charged with three counts of culpable homicide.
“Immediately after he was arrested, he was taken for alcohol tests,” Tembe said.
“According to the breathalyser test, he was proved to have been under the influence of alcohol.
“As a law enforcement officer, you're always on duty, 24/7. We expect you to behave as a law enforcement officer whether on duty or off duty. Being under the influence of alcohol and in the departmental vehicle is something else,” Tembe said.
The officer was expected to appear in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court today, where he was set to apply for bail. If he does get bail, he will not return to his job.
Tembe revealed that the officer had been suspended with immediate effect pending an internal disciplinary hearing.
“We need not shy away from ensuring that our officers who do something that is contrary to what we stand for are dealt with,” Tembe said.
“What we keep on saying to our officers is that, on and off duty, they must behave as expected of them.
“They've taken an oath. Their behaviour impacts on the department. Such behaviour puts the department into disrepute.”
Tembe said he was reeling with shock that an officer he personally knew as a good person had been involved in a drunk-driving accident.
“He's a good officer, I must say,” said Tembe. “I was shocked when they informed me of the accident. I know him. He's one of the best officers that I ever had.”